County commissioners say chief has been one of panels best advisers

HeimullerThe Columbia County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday, Nov. 27, to reappoint Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen as chairman of the Columbia County Traffic Safety Commission.

Greisen was one of seven individuals appointed that day to the traffic safety commission, which is largely an educational and advisory agency tasked with helping reduce the number of vehicle crashes in the county.

The chief is currently at the center of a controversy within the Scappoose Police Department after a private investigative agency determined he violated departmental policies while engaged in a vehicle pursuit last February. Greisen is also on paid leave pending two other investigations — one involving his alleged retaliation against another officer and the other involving the discovery of cash and bank receipts tied to a reportedly unauthorized account found in a locked drawer in his office.

Greisen has not attended a commission meeting since he was suspended in September.

Henry Heimuller, a Columbia County commissioner who has served on the Traffic Safety Commission since 2007, said the commissioners would uphold Greisen’s position on the commission as long as he is chief of the Scappoose Police Department.

“As far as we’re concerned, at this point in time [Greisen] is still the police chief in Scappoose,” he said. “If he is relieved of his duty, we would have to appoint someone else, unless the city of Scappoose were to send us a request to fill that vacancy with someone else ... we’d be happy to entertain that.”

Heimuller said Greisen has a position on the traffic safety commission to represent Scappoose law enforcement, just as other police chiefs throughout the county do.

Heimuller added that some departments will often send a placeholder for members of the Traffic Safety Commission who are unable to attend.

“There was not discussion on our end because he holds the seat,” he said. “If the mayor [of Scappoose] wants to send a fill-in or stand-in in his stead, they’re welcome to.”

Asked whether Scappoose had considered appointing a placeholder for the county’s Traffic Safety Commission, Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said he was not aware that option was available.

“You know, I haven’t even considered it,” he said. “I didn’t even realize the county did that.”

Heimueller said Greisen has served the commission well.

“He’s been one of the best advisors on the Traffic Safety [Commission],” Heimuller said.

Columbia County Commissioner Earl Fisher said Monday, Dec. 2, that the board didn’t fully consider the investigations into Greisen when reappointing him.

“I don’t know that it made any impact one way or the other,” he said. “We don’t know how that’s going to turn out one way or the other.”

Fisher said the chief has been chairman of the Traffic Safety Commission for the past two terms and has done a good job.

“The [commission] works very hard at what it does and the chief, as well as everybody else, is dedicated to making roads safer in the county,” Fisher said.

A Columbia County records custodian estimated Greisen started serving on the Traffic Safety Commission shortly after he became police chief about 13 years ago.

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