Police Department, union will cooperate on harassment cases

Union will be notified in the future, but must keep details secret

Gresham's police union and police department have agreed to cooperate on future harassment investigations if the suspect could possibly be a sworn officer.

According to a grievance settlement announced Wednesday, April 25, the department will notify the police union president if it plans to use hidden cameras to document cases of workplace harassment that could involve union members. In turn, the union has agreed to keep such investigations secret and to cooperate however possible.

The grievance, filed by the police union on March 1, stems from the department's use of a hidden camera in an attempt to identify who was harassing a police sergeant.

Sgt. Teddi Anderson, who also serves as the department's spokeswoman, discovered a gender-biased expletive typed onto her computer screen, as well as written on a note left on her desk, in late January. About a year before, someone slashed her tires in the police department's parking lot.

After notifying police administrators, a camera was installed in a ceiling tile in the office she shares with other sergeants in an attempt to catch the harasser in the act. A few days later, the suspect changed tactics and wrote the same expletive on Anderson's car mirror while it was parked at work.

The surveillance lasted two weeks and failed to identify a suspect. Although the camera was no longer recording, it was left in the ceiling in case the harassment resumed.

A fellow sergeant discovered the camera, and the union filed a formal grievance, citing a breach of trust and privacy considering some used the office to change clothes while a locker room was being repaired.

The settlement also determines that the police chief must approve in writing the use of hidden cameras in workplace harassment investigations and requires the city's human resources department be involved, as is already stipulated in the union's collective bargaining agreement.

In addition, the settlement makes clear that anyone who changes clothes in a Gresham police office should have no expectation of privacy as employees should use designated locker rooms to change clothes.

The settlement doesn't apply to criminal investigations.

Gresham Police Chief Carla Piluso said she's pleased the grievance system that's in place was successful. 'It does work,' she said, adding that the morale rift caused by the camera discovery is on the mend.

Mark Makler, the union's attorney, said he too is glad the situation has been resolved. He likened a police union-police administration relationship to a marriage. 'The marriage is going to continue, and you're not getting a divorce over this kind of an issue,' Makler said. 'You're going to have to work it out, and that's what we were able to do.'

Piluso said the investigation that sparked the grievance is done, but will be resumed - with union and human resources' cooperation - if the harassing behavior continues.

'It's a reminder that this kind of stuff is just not acceptable,' Piluso said.