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Ken Summers stepped into top cop role after corruption allegations surfaced last month

SummersInterim Cornelius Police Chief Ken Summers is beginning to outline new goals for the department, which was thrown into chaos last month by an internal investigation into corruption charges involving its top brass.

Summers said last week he wants to improve communication between the police department, the city and community. He started by inviting citizens to an informal question-and-answer session Nov. 28 and introduced himself to the Cornelius City Council Monday night.

He also invited community members to share concerns and ask questions about the department's future at the Community Oriented Policing Citizen Advisory Board’s regular meeting last Wendesday. COPCAB consists of seven members appointed by the mayor and the council who advise the police chief on issues concerning public safety and police services.

Summers, a retired captain and undersheriff of Yamhill County, has been filling the post of Police Chief Paul Rubenstein, who went on administrative leave about three weeks ago.

“I like fixing things,” said Summers, who came out of retirement after four Cornelius cops filed a formal complaint against Rubenstein and Assistant Chief Joe Nofsinger, launching an investigation and resulting in some internal restructuring.

Summers said he is “excited to be here” during this time when the “city is at a crossroads.”

He is working with city officials, city employees, sergeants and officers to create an effective work environment that provides the best law enforcement possible for the citizens, he said.

“My job is to look from the date I came here into the department’s future, not into the past,” Summer said. “So far I am impressed — we have some great people here.”

With fewer than 10 citizens attending the meeting last Wednesday, excluding members of the media and those on COPCAB, there wasn’t an extensive public discussion. But having spent the last few weeks familiarizing himself with the department and “learning what we’re doing right and what we could be doing better,” Summers did outline a few new areas of focus for the department.

He noted that the documentation and review process for citizen complaints and use of force incidents needs to be improved. “They haven’t been tracked very well and the department needs to be 100 percent transparent on this,” Summers said.

Other suggestions to increase communication with the community included surveying citizens after incidents and holding more neighborhood meetings.

Over budget

Summers has also spent extensive time working on the department's $1.9 million annual budget. “We are over budget right now but I am confident we will be able to come in under,” he said.

“We have been spending a lot of money to hire people to do work we should be able to do ourselves,” he said at last Wednesday’s meeting. For example, the department spent $5,500 to have policy violations investigated by a private entity, but “we have people in the office that can do that,” said Summers. The department is also "way over" the budget for overtime allowances. But overall, "it's not too bad," he added.

He intends to engage COPCAB as a department partner, organizing members to participate in community policing.

Officers are organizing the citizen’s academy program for next spring, which invites community members to become educated about the many aspects of law enforcement.

“Everyone is getting along and everything is going good,” Summers said. And while he doesn’t know how long he will hold his current position, “I hope I’m here long enough to make a difference. If the city is happy when I leave, then I’m happy.”

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