Bush has already sued city on the basis that the decision was related to his service in National Guard

by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Eric BushTen months after initially putting Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush on paid administrative leave, the City of Prineville has terminated his employment.

The city issued a two-sentence news release Wednesday morning regarding the decision. It indicated that Police Captain Michael Boyd will serve as interim chief while the city conducts a search process for a new chief. No other details regarding Bush’s dismissal were disclosed.

Bush was fired shortly after the completion of a third-party investigation into what has so far been termed a personnel matter. The Local Government Personnel Institute, which conducted the probe, delivered their findings to the city’s and Bush’s attorneys for review in late June.

City staff and officials were advised not to speak about the investigation throughout its duration, and are now declining to comment on the recent decision to fire Bush.

“It is a personnel matter, and we don’t have any comment,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe.

The city has not released the report furnished by the Local Government Personnel Institute and City of Prineville Attorney Carl Dutli said the report may never be made public.

“The record is not a public record unless discipline is imposed,” he said. “Even if discipline is imposed, you have a balancing test – the interests of the employee versus the public’s right to know.”

The Central Oregonian has filed a public records request with the city for additional information on the investigation and subsequent termination.

On Wednesday, following the city’s announcement, Bush's attorney Roxanne Farra stated that a lawsuit has already been filed in Crook County Circuit Court in response to his termination.

"The evidence in this case will prove that Chief Bush was fired because of his uniformed service in the National Guard, in particular, his selection in July 2013 as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, J-3, United States Forces Korea," she wrote in an email. "After nine months of cooperating with every aspect of the city’s 'investigation,' Eric Bush welcomes the opportunity to present the facts of his case to the members of the Community that he has served for the last 23 years."

Attempts to reach Dutli were not successful by press deadline.

Bush was hired by the Prineville Police Department in August 1990 as a patrol officer. He has served in various capacities, including narcotics investigations, SWAT, and mounted patrol. He was promoted to chief in 2003.

In addition to his local police work, Bush has served as a brigadier general in the Oregon National Guard. Prior to his deployment in Korea, he had served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star.

As the investigation stretched into multiple months, local citizens began to question its purpose and criticize its duration. In response, during a regularly scheduled city council meeting in March, City Manager Steve Forrester and Dutli explained that the process had been held up due to difficulties interviewing members of the military. They also expressed frustration with how long the process was taking.

Following the decision to fire Bush, Roppe apologized to the public for how long the investigation process took.

“We understand that it’s a long time for people to wonder what is happening,” she said.

Roppe went on to express support for Forrester and the actions the city recently took under his leadership.

“The council hired a city manager to do that job,” she said, “and we allow him to do it and we support him when he does his job.”

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