Release of Bush details good for city, its citizens

The community has been clamoring for it for months — details of why former Police Chief Eric Bush was on paid administrative leave since September, 2013 — and they finally came pouring out last week, thanks to the freedom of information act.

As is often the case when things are kept in secret, speculation and rumor, much more salicious than the actual facts, filled the void during these 10 months of "no comment" from either side. While rumors and social media hinted at wild, scandalous activities, the facts were much more pedestrian. Bush's leave and subsequent dismissal were simply because the city felt he was not spending enough time and focus working as chief, and most importantly, falsifying and exaggerating hours in light of his duties as brigadier general with the National Guard, which kept him away from Prineville much of the time.

There were also other elements questioning Bush's professionalism and honesty.

Bush acknowledges that he committed a lot of attention to his National Guard work, something that has always been generally allowed to do; and city government had, in the past, praised him for his military service. Bush vehemently denies falsifying hours, and believes the effort to remove him as chief was based on insubordinate attitudes and activities within the department. Bush has responded with a $2.5 million lawsuit against the city, naming individuals connected to the city and department.

If this case ever reaches a jury, it seems that the only real germane question is whether or not Bush falsified his hours. The city believes they have concrete evidence he did, while Bush, via his attorney, seems just as adamant that he can prove he did not.

Something else that was obvious in reviewing the details of the investigation was how the Prineville Police Department is split over Bush, how he handled his job as chief. Many in the department — including his replacement, Capt. Michael Boyd — told the investigator that Bush was inattentive and unprofessional at best, and abused the trust the city put in him as its police chief. But others praised the former chief and implied the only reason he was under fire was because someone else in the department wanted his job.

Obviously there are deep divisions within the department. Eliminating those issues, unifying the department in the light of what's taken place over the past year, may be the larger chore within the city than moving forward on the Bush case.

At least with what's transpired over the last few weeks — the city moving to dismiss Bush followed by the investigation documentation becoming public — city government and the city residents can begin to move forward regarding the department.

After 10 long months of being stagnant in the backeddy of paid leave, rampant rumor and no-comment from the city, any forward movement is a very good thing.

Contract Publishing

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