Culver officer returns to job
Culver police officer Kecia Powell returned to her job Monday, April 14, after a City Council vote that she not be dismissed, but put on probation for a period of six months.
"I though it was an honest mistake. She didn't do it with intent and made restitution. I felt in my heart she didn't do it deliberately," said Culver city councilor Anzie Adams.
Powell was placed on administrative leave Feb. 15, after charges surfaced that she had misused a city credit card to pay her personal phone bill.
Before the City Council could conduct its own investigation, Enes Smith, who had been hired to train Powell for the position of police chief, announced he was doing the investigation, according to Culver police commissioner Shawna Clanton.
After further investigation by the Madras Police Department, the case was referred to grand jury by District Attorney Peter Deuel, and the grand jury decided to indict her.
Powell was arraigned in Circuit Court March 27, on charges of first-degree official misconduct and attempted second-degree theft.
The charges, both Class A misdemeanors, stem from an incident at a Seaside conference Jan. 15 and 16, when Powell's cell phone service was cut off and she used the city's credit card to make a Unicell payment to have service restored.
Powell alleges the amount was $32.60, but when the city received the bill it was for $326. She claimed it was a decimal point error, and paid the Unicell bill that same week.
Culver city attorney Paul Sumner noted a "due process" hearing was held by Mayor Dan Harnden and police commissioner Clanton to discuss the allegations. After the investigation, they discussed the findings with Powell and gave her a chance to respond, then made a recommendation to Culver City Council (which now only has four members following Hancock's resignation).
However, Powell appealed the recommendation, which meant the remaining two council members, Anzie Adams and Thelma Krueger, held an appeals hearing April 8, with Powell and her attorney Foster Glass, and decided the matter.
The hearing was done in executive session, but the final motion and vote was done in public session.
Both Adams and Krueger voted to keep Powell as a Culver police officer, but put her on six months probation.
"I couldn't see ruining someone's career for an honest mistake. What would she have gained by doing that -- nothing -- so I didn't think there was any (fraudulent) intent and without intent she's innocent," Adams said.
Previously, Powell's attorney had said the charges could destroy her career if she was convicted of official misconduct.
"The BPSST would yank your certification," he said, referring to the Oregon Board on Public Safety Standards and Training.
Speaking for his client following the City Council's favorable decision, Glass said, "I'm happy a couple of the councilors had the courage to do the right thing and examine the issue from a practical point of view and make a decision."
While cleared by the Culver Council, Powell still faces the criminal charges. Her next hearing has been set for 10 a.m., May 7, before Circuit Court Judge George Neilson.