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Documents reveal police tensions

As Hillsboro begins actively searching for its next police chief, recently-released documents are shedding light on the turmoil within the department under its two previous leaders.

Carey Sullivan unexpectedly resigned March 9 after about 30 months as chief. Interim Chief Ron Louie left June 14. He had previously served as chief from 1992 to 2007. Now documents related to a harassment complaint against Louie reveal the command staff felt stressed by both of them.

The most detailed document is an 84-page complaint filed against Louie and the city by police Lt. Mitch Rademacher. It charged that Louie so demeaned him at a May 6 management meeting that he had no choice but to resign his former position as commander.

A subsequent internal investigation found that Louie violated the city’s anti-harassment policies against both Rademacher and Support Services Manager Cindy Bolek. Louie had already resigned by the time those rulings were made, however.

Rademacher’s complaint covers far more than the May 6 meeting, however. It contains numerous references to stresses felt by the command staff — collectively called the Executive Team — when Sullivan was chief. And it reveals that Rademacher believed Louie set out to scapegoat the E-Team to resolve complaints voiced by rank-and-file officers.

In the complaint, Rademacher says he was first hired by the department as an officer in 1985 and has worked there for 28 years. He is the third most-senior member of the department, having been promoted to corporal in 1997, sergeant in 2001, lieutenant in 2008 and commander in 2011. Rademacher says he has never been the subject of an internal affairs investigation and has only received a written reprimand for losing a flashlight and a counseling memo for a traffic accident in the 1990s.

Rademacher said he also helped department employees come to grips with the shocking January 2013 incident in which off-duty Officer Tim Cannon held his family hostage and exchanged gunfire with police at his Forest Grove home. Cannon is facing attempted aggravated murder and other changes.

“During and after that incident all of Command Staff helped to work and lead our employees, help them heal and try to understand what had occurred,” Rademacher wrote.

‘Additional heads would roll’

Sullivan’s tenure as chief was marked by labor problems caused, in part, by his aloof leadership style, officers have said. Rademacher writes that many employees were glad to see him go. However, after Louie’s appointment as interim chief, rumors started swirling that “additional heads would roll.”

Rademacher originally thought Louie was allowing such comments at briefings and other meetings “to serve as a venting process for employees.” But he eventually came to believe that Louie was planning to replace him and other members of the E-Team.

Rademacher’s suspicions jelled after Louie drafted an employee survey on morale and other issues. According to Rademacher, the E-Team was not originally invited to take it.

“Chief Louie seemed to be focused on the health of everyone in the organization but his command staff, which was disappointing. We had to remind him that his Executive Team was also experiencing many of those same feelings and concerns under the leadership of Chief Sullivan,” Rademacher wrote.

The E-Team was then allowed to take the survey, which found low morale within the department. One-word responses included such words as “discouraged,” “unsupported,” “toxic” and “disconnected.”

After the results came in, Rademacher notes that Louie seemed to meet with everyone except members of the E-Team to learn their concerns.

“While this gave a perception that Chief Louie was the good guy coming to rescue the police department, I believe that this has a continuing negative effect with the [remainder] of the E-Team and is further straining relations,” Rademacher wrote.

When Louie discussed the feedback he was receiving from the E-Team, Rademacher said he was taking every comment as gospel. When E-Team members were criticized, they were not given opportunities to explain themselves, he wrote.

“As time progressed and Chief Louie continued his group meetings, we as an E-team asked when we can [clarify] or defend some of the questions and accusations being directed at the Executive Team, either as a group or individual issues being mentioned, even in the absence of Chief Sullivan.

“Chief Louie’s response and direction was that the department was angry and grieving and the members of the Executive Team just need to basically suck it up and serve as that venting mechanism for the organization,” Rademacher wrote.

Lost his temper

After months of escalating tension, things came to a head for Rademacher at a May 6 E-Team meeting. According to the complaint, Louie came into the room after meeting with the investigations unit. Louie was clearly upset, Rademacher wrote, and soon lost his temper.

“He was yelling at all of us stating we all had no accountability or credibility. I believe he used mild obscenities, words similar to ‘goddamn,’ ‘damn’ or ‘pissed off,’ but I don’t recall for sure. Chief Louie not only [expressed] his anger and rage with words, but also tone of voice, body language, facial expressions and posture,” wrote Rademacher, who said other employees in the office must have heard Louie’s tirade.

Like other E-Team meetings, notes on this one were being taken by Bolek. According to Rademacher, Louie relieved her of her duties with the Records Division and Professional Standards Unit, then ordered her to stop taking notes from the meeting. Bolek began to cry, Rademacher wrote, because she did not understand what she had done wrong.

Rademacher says he had lost all respect for Louie by then and walked out of the room. But he was ordered to return by Louie, who, Rademacher writes, told him he had less than 10 percent credibility. Rademacher felt he had no choice but to resign.

“At that point and time I had enough of Chief Louie’s lack of credibility, professionalism, hostile and unfair treatment and had no option but to remove my Commander badge from my uniform shirt and told Chief Louie he could have my Commander badge and that I was now a Lieutenant and walked to the door to exit the room,” Rademacher wrote.

Rademacher says he then requested a meeting with City Manager Michael Brown, Assistant City Manager Steve Greagor and Human Resources Director Robby Hammond. He told them about Louie’s behavior at the E-team meeting, saying it was unprofessional and alarming.

Afterward, Rademacher began to suspect Louie intentionally behaved badly at the meeting to provoke him and possibly other E-Team members to step down.

Confidential memo

Both Rademacher and Bolek then filed complaints against Louie, which were investigated by the city. The investigations confirmed Rademacher’s description of Louie’s behavior at the meeting.

On June 11, Hammond wrote Bolek a confidential memo saying Louie had violated the city’s anti-harassment policy. She was notified that her job assignments had not been changed.

Rademacher received a similar memo June 19. By then another commander, John Schmerber, had also stepped down. Louie replaced both of them shortly before he resigned.

Deputy Chief Mark Bonnett is running the department until a new chief is chosen. Greagor, a former police officer, is overseeing it.

The city settled the labor disputes before Louie left.




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