Details emerge of sheriff candidate's past actions during 29-year career

by: FULLER4SHERIFF.COM - Former Columbia County Sheriff's Office Deputy Dave Fuller hopes to be elected to sheriff this November.A candidate in the upcoming election for Columbia County sheriff has a history of disciplinary action against him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Besides a recent investigation for allegedly failing to properly report a crash and related suspicions from his prior employer that he was drinking and driving during the incident, the former deputy has also apparently been disciplined for insubordination, failing to show up for work and leaving the scene of a DUII crash — where he was a passenger — before police arrived.

Dave Fuller retired this month while under investigation for an April 1 single-vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 30 between St. Helens and Rainier. Oregon State Police cited him for failure to report that incident and the Sheriff’s Office later ordered a personnel investigation, alleging Fuller may have also been intoxicated at the time of the crash.

Fuller, who had a 29-year career as a deputy, denied being drunk, but admitted to having a few drinks earlier that night during a casino fundraiser trip.

Sheriff’s Office investigators were preparing to interview him regarding a third charge of lying in initial interviews about the accident, but Fuller retired before they could conduct the interview, said Undersheriff Andy Moyer.

Fuller, a Scappoose resident, alleges the investigation was politically motived because the sheriff is running for re-election. Fuller’s supporters have also criticized the sheriff in relation to the probe.

“We’ve tried to keep this above-board and completely honest,” countered Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, adding he would have treated the situation the same way no matter who was being investigated.

According to Moyer, OSP troopers looked into whether Fuller may have been intoxicated when the crash occurred. He said because the incident wasn’t reported immediately, any evidence investigators could have gathered if Fuller had been driving drunk was long gone.

The sheriff has been reluctant to talk with The Spotlight about the investigation while he runs his own campaign, preferring to remove himself from the process completely and directing questions to Moyer.

“This has never been about persecuting him from the Sheriff’s Office,” Dickerson said. “We’ve disciplined people who had supported me in the past. ... (Fuller) wasn’t even put on administrative leave until he refused to talk to the investigating trooper.”

The Spotlight has learned this isn’t the first time Fuller was investigated by the Sheriff’s Office for his conduct as a deputy.

Dickerson and Moyer both cited instances where Fuller has been disciplined a number of times: for insubordination, failure to show up for work and for leaving the scene of a crash before police arrived.

In that incident, which occurred on Jan. 23, 1985, Fuller was reportedly in a car with two drunk women. He was not driving. The car’s driver crashed into a house. After making sure everyone was OK, Dickerson said Fuller fled the scene. The deputy was disciplined two days later.

At another time, Dickerson said Fuller’s supervisor told the deputy to go to a call for assistance. He said the deputy went on the call, but initially refused and got into an arguing match with his supervisor, where Fuller cussed loudly using the “f word.” Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dustin Hald said Fuller was disciplined for this incident in June 2011.

Dickerson said he was in his office with a guest while all of this was happening.

“You could hear the screaming in the back room,” he said.

Fuller was also disciplined in June 2010 for refusing to show up for work, Hald said.

Dickerson wouldn’t go into more detail, referring to the county human resources department, which maintains confidential employee disciplinary files.

Fuller did not return numerous calls for further comment.

Moyer and Dickerson said they couldn’t legally divulge many of the details in Fuller’s personnel file. The Spotlight has filed a public records request with the Columbia County Human Resources Department for permission to view Fuller’s disciplinary records.

Since Fuller retired while under investigation, the Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training will likely review any reports made by the Sheriff’s Office and decide whether or not to revoke Fuller’s accreditation as a law enforcement officer, said Kristen Turley, DPSST Standards and Compliance Coordinator.

Including Fuller, Dickerson has had three deputies resign or retire while under investigation. One was Deputy John Hinkle who was eventually found guilty of sexually abusing his own daughter. Another was a jail employee who Dickerson would not name, investigated for “unauthorized use of a computer on government time.”

“Why resign?” Dickerson said. “To me, it’s because they don’t want to face the music.”

Last week, Fuller said he was aggravated because he heard Dickerson called him immoral at the Sept. 15 Scappoose Sauerkraut Festival, where both candidates had promotional booths.

Dickerson said he did tell a man who accused him of undertaking a “witch hunt” against Fuller that he believes his prior employee’s conduct at times was just that: “immoral.”

“These kind of things are not my morality,” Dickerson said. “In my view, it is immoral to do some of the things he’s done. He is, not to me, an indication of someone who leads a moral life.”

-Additional reporting by Stover E. Harger III

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