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Friday, July 18, 2014

Discipline for Well-Known Cops Revealed in Latest Batch of Police Review Board Reports

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:51 PM

The Portland Police Bureau released its latest batch of Police Review Board reports this afternoon, chronicling many of the usual accusations thrust before the advisory body—like harassment, unsavory language, improper force, car crashes, and untruthfulness—along with discipline cases filed against three fairly well-known cops.

Two of those officers—Ed Hamann and Jason Lobaugh—resigned from the police bureau while their cases were pending.

• Hamann resigned February 4, a police spokesman tells the Mercury—some three months before a 17-year-old allegation of "unwanted sexual contact" involving another employee went before the PRB.

Hamann, as reported last summer by the Oregonian, was under investigation last summer, shortly after he was assigned as the captain in charge of the bureau's family services unit. The officer he allegedly victimized had questioned his ability to lead that unit, and he was quietly reassigned while the investigation took place.

Today's PRB reports don't identify Hamann, but add a few other details, namely that the contact happened during a party and that it was "corroborated by witnesses." PRB members, in alluding to Hamann's actions, called his conduct "reprehensible" and said they would have recommended discipline up to an including termination if he hadn't resigned first.

They also implied the police bureau was a far more terrifying place for women nearly 20 years ago—arguing that this kind of incident, if it happened now, would have been dealt with fairly and swiftly. They ordered a letter written up explaining the discipline that might have meted out if the case had been investigated in 1997 vs. today.

"Voting members extensively discussed how to reconcile the differences in rules and organizational culture from 1997 to the present, and expressed significant concern about how the outcome of this case would reflect on the PPB today," the report states," as well as the message it would send to employees about the safety of the workplace and reporting misconduct."

• Lobaugh, as Willamette Week reported this spring, quit the bureau in the midst of multiple domestic violence inquiries—most prominently a case in which he was accused of menacing one of his ex-wives, along with that ex-wife's new husband, during a 2012 custody dispute.

The Citizen Review Committee unanimously disagreed with both the PRB and the bureau, both of which recommended exonerating Lobaugh of those claims. Chief Mike Reese went back and forth on whether to agree with the CRC and reverse that exoneration. And it was reported that Lobaugh resigned just days before Reese finally agreed to side with the CRC.

That, it turns out, wasn't everything. The PRB, according to the reports, had recommended Lobaugh lose his job over two cases filed after that one. He quit weeks after those recommendations came down.

One of those involved the same ex-wife that was the subject of the case that went before the CRC. While that case was being investigated, Lobaugh in June 2013 got into it again with his ex-wife's new husband. He invited the new husband to meet him at a Fred Meyer and dared him to punch him in the face.

Troublingly for Lobaugh, that altercation came after Commander Donna Henderson—spurred by the 2012 complaints—had written him a memo telling him to watch himself. That memo wasn't heeded, and the board decided Lobaugh, based on a whole host of issues going back years, ought to be canned.

Lobaugh also ran afoul of the PRB over a jury-tampering accusation, also reported by Willamette Week. The board figured if he hadn't gotten the message yet, after a series of questionable actions stretching back years, then he never would.

• As for the third high-profile cop tied to the reports? It's Captain Mark Kruger—whose discipline four years ago for erecting a shrine to Nazi Germany soldiers in a remote part of a public park was recently wiped away as part a legal settlement. That settlement involved a former subordinate's claims of harassment and retaliation, and a former civilian police official's text messages mocking Kruger's Nazi Germany military fandom.

Today's reports deal only with retaliation claim, namely that Kruger, after he was cleared of harassment last year, pasted up the exoneration letter on his office door, with the former subordinate's name written across the top in big red letters.

The PRB was unanimous in agreeing that Kruger engaged in retaliation, and that claim was substantiated by the bureau of human resources. But only one PRB member wanted to suspend Kruger. He was given just a letter of reprimand—which was on file with the bureau until it, too, was cleared as part of the settlement.

• The reports show two other officers, who weren't immediately identifiable, deciding to resign in the midst of their discipline cases. One was found to have been a lax driver, for the fourth time, and would have been sent to training. The second was accused of lying about his or her reasons for taking leave—saying he or she wanted to take an educational leave while, instead, trying to pursue outside employment that the bureau had previously denied.

• Two more officers had been fingered for termination—but received only suspensions instead.

The PRB unanimously went after an officer accused of several things: some of the biggest involving lying about a late police report to supervisors and committing other sins of truth, some involving the officer's medical condition. The PRB also unanimously agreed the officer got into a scuffle with someone—suffering injuries—because he or she failed to bring along a cover officer. The officer also was found to have improperly used a Taser against someone who'd already been subdued.

PRB members decided the officer wouldn't be allowed to testify in court, because of credibility issues. Reese didn't agree, however, that the cop's "departures from the truth" were "knowing or willful." So he deviated from the board's urgings and new discipline guidelines, giving the cop a two-week suspension and a "last chance agreement."

The second case was less cut and dried. A plurality of the PRB—two members—recommended dismissing a cop accused of taking someone to Hooper Detox who hadn't been handcuffed or searched for weapons or booze (the person had both). The board was split on whether the officer lied when he filed a report saying he'd done all those things. Reese handed down a two-week suspension.

• The reports have been coming out twice a year since July 2011. But these are the first reports released under new transparency rules approved by Portland City Council this winter. The reports now include final discipline from the police chief's office, as well as the PRB's recommended discipline. And when the chief's discipline deviates from a new matrix guiding discipline decisions, his office is now required to include a note explaining why.

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