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Complaint filed against Cornelius police chief

Four officers claim Paul Rubensteins behavior is abusive and unethical


The News-Times has learned that a group of Cornelius police officers issued a litany of complaints against Chief Paul Rubenstein and Assistant Chief Joe Nofsinger last month, claiming their supervisors have created a hostile workplace and retaliated against their efforts to expose what they characterize as Rubenstein’s “negligent, unethical, abusive, hostile and/or unprofessional behavior.”

The allegations were outlined in a document sent to Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake and the members of the city council on Oct. 16. City officials issued a brief statement about the charges late Tuesday afternoon, saying they “take the matter seriously and will fully investigate it” but cannot comment on the specific charges.

The city’s statement said that the city attorney is coordinating the internal investigation with help from the Local Government Personnel Institute, an organization that provides conflict resolution and investigative services for cities, counties and special districts throughout Oregon.

In their 15-page complaint to the city, Sgt. Shawn Watts and Officers Doug Scheutz, Mark Jansen and Miguel Monico detailed several allegations about Rubenstein’s behavior.

One central point in the complaint is the conduct of fellow officer Dustin DeHaven. The four officers claim that DeHaven has on at least four occasions exhibited “untruthfulness” while on duty. They claim that Sgt. Watts has forwarded accounts of those incidents to the chief but that Rubenstein and Nofsinger “covered up” the behavior due to what they characterize as Rubenstein’s “long past friendship with Officer DeHaven’s father,” a classmate of Rubenstein’s at the University of Oregon.

Another key allegation involves Rubenstein’s own behavior.

The officers write that Forest Grove Sgt. Dean Foster provided documentation of an incident of “road rage,” where the officers claim Rubenstein engaged in “harassment of another motorist under the guise of his official police authority.”

City and police sources told the News-Times Tuesday that traffic stops initiated by Rubenstein have caused tension in both Forest Grove and Cornelius and sometimes rankled police officers.

The officer complaint also says that in late April 2012, a Forest Grove police officer came to Watts with information that an informant said Rubenstein was seen associating with a woman who lived at a suspected Forest Grove drug house.

This allegation further states that the Forest Grove officer told Watts that his account of the informant’s claims about Rubenstein were included in a police report, but when that report was sent to the county drug team, the paragraph about Rubenstein “had been deleted without his knowledge or consent.”

Forest Grove Police spokesman Capt. Mike Herb said Forest Grove Police Chief Janie Schutz, who started on the job last month, has asked the Oregon State Police to investigate the allegation.

Rubenstein told the News-Times that he could not comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.

Finally, the complaint alleges that Rubenstein allowed “racially offensive” materials to be displayed on Nofsinger’s locker and retaliated against Officer Jansen for his union activities.

Sources inside and outside the city confirmed that all four officers who brought the complaint have been active in union affairs and that tensions between management and union rank and file have been on the rise at the Cornelius Police Department.

Stephanie Haugen contributed to this report.




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