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City delays hire of new police chief

Greisen received almost $100,000 from city between suspension and termination


GreisenScappoose will not seek to hire a new police chief for at least two months, city officials say.

The position is now vacant after City Manager Larry Lehman upheld a termination of former Police Chief Doug Greisen following an appeal process that lasted more than a month.

Mayor Scott Burge said at a June 16 City Council meeting that keeping the police chief position as it currently is, with Lt. Norm Miller filling the position as acting chief, saves the city about $12,700 a month.

Burge also said that the city had to dip into its contingency fund due to personnel matters, such as the more-than $110,000 buyout of former City Manager Jon Hanken. Another cost to the city was the salary of Greisen while away from his position as the results of investigations into his conduct were pending.

As of Tuesday, June 24, the city has paid Greisen a total of $99,210.38 since the start of his September 2013 suspension. That figure, Lehman said, includes a 60-day severance package and two weeks of vacation pay as included via Greisen’s contract with Scappoose.

LehmanAsked whether the delay in hiring a new chief was to save the city money, Lehman replied, “I didn’t think of that, but it does do that.”

“Basically, my intention is to leave Lt. Miller in charge for at least 60 days before we take any action,” Lehman said Monday, adding he had talked to some of the officers within the department and reported they seem content.

“Their attitude is somewhat, ‘Just leave us alone and lest us do our jobs.’ So my intent is to give them that stability for at least 60 days,” he said.

While the city released an initial investigation that found Greisen violated departmental policies in a February 2013 police chase, Scappoose officials have declined to release an investigation into allegations he ran a hostile workplace. The city also won’t release the entirety of an investigation into Greisen’s alleged misspending of city dollars.

The Spotlight on Thursday, June 16, requested a copy of both reports after receiving notice that Greisen’s termination had been finalized. Lehman replied the investigation into workplace hostility is exempt from public records disclosure as it relates to litigation.

Regarding the financial investigation, Lehman wrote, “The city is currently reviewing that report for information exempted by law from disclosure. It is determined some of the report is exempted by law from disclosure.”

Lehman continued, writing that the cost to release the report would be $550, as city staff and the city attorney would have to take time to redact sections of the report he believes are expect from disclosure.

Two prior requests to view both records were denied by the city. In a March 31 response to Spotlight records requests, former interim City Manager Don Otterman wrote that the city would reconsider releasing the records after the issue with Greisen had been resolved.

“Once the City has concluded this disciplinary proceeding and resolved the potential for litigation, it is open to re-evaluating the public interest balancing test to determine if these records should be released,” Otterman told the Spotlight.

Lehman made his decision to uphold the firing of Greisen after a committee of councilors reviewed the former chief’s appeal and identified no violation of law or policy in his termination. That committee, known as the Personnel Review Committee, stated in a recommendation to Lehman that it reached out to Hanken, who issued the initial suspension to Greisen, and Otterman, who issued the termination. The PRC reported Otterman declined to comment and Hanken did not return a call placed to his last known phone number from the committee.

In an email to the Spotlight, however, Hanken wrote that, while numerous elected officials and staff members had his phone number, he had not received any calls from the PRC or other city elected officials or staff regarding the Greisen review.