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Monday, May 5, 2014

Chief Changes His Mind on Disciplining Cop in Domestic Violence Case; Cop Quits

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

After several months of contemplation, Police Chief Mike Reese has changed his mind and decided to side with a citizen oversight panel that unanimously urged him to discipline a controversial police officer accused of menacing his ex-wife and her new husband in 2012.

But days before Reese memorialized his change of heart, sending an April 29 letter (pdf) to the Citizen Review Committee, the officer in the case, Jason Lobaugh, decided to throw a curveball of his own. According to a police spokesman, Lobaugh up and quit five days before, on April 24.

The chief's reversal and Lobaugh's departure were first reported this afternoon by Willamette Week. Lobaugh's case had been scheduled for Wednesday's upcoming CRC meeting but wasn't included on a meeting agenda released last week. The Mercury was first to report the chief's initial refusal to sanction Lobaugh and that the chief—faced with the likelihood the CRC would send the case to the city council for a hearing—was considering changing his mind.

In this case, Lobaugh's ex-wife accused him, while off-duty, of instigating three confrontations over a six-week span in late 2012 as part of a custody dispute. Among the accusations: he called her new husband a "little bitch." Lobaugh, however, was cleared by his commander of violating the bureau's rules on professionalism. The CRC disagreed and urged Reese to overturn that ruling.

Reese explained his decision to side with the CRC in a short letter.

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Sergeant Pete Simpson, police bureau spokesman, says an investigation on other charges against Lobaugh, some related to domestic violence issues, will continue. Simpson would only confirm Lobaugh's departure and the date it became official. He did not comment on why Lobaugh resigned.

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