Sgt. Doug Carpenter alleges city officials retaliated against him for whistleblowing

GreisenA Scappoose police officer has filed a legal complaint against the city for allegedly retaliating against him after he wrote a report critical of Scappoose Police Chief Doug Greisen, which sparked a series of investigations into the police chief.

Police Sgt. Doug Carpenter filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries against Scappoose, Feb. 27, alleging the city carried out unlawful employment practices against him in retaliation for whistleblowing. As a result of the alleged retaliation, Carpenter claims in his complaint he is suffering from anxiety and has been on medical leave due to ongoing harassment.

Carpenter’s complaint stems from a March 2013 report he wrote critical of Greisen’s actions in a February 2013 police pursuit. An investigation into the pursuit, carried out by a contracted private firm called Local Government Personnel Institute, found Greisen violated 10 departmental policies by recommending a subordinate officer ram a fleeing vehicle at speeds that were considered to be the use of lethal force.

The city placed Greisen on a two-week suspension without pay as a result and has subsequently placed him on paid administrative leave pending the results of two other city-initiated investigations into his conduct as chief.

Carpenter claims Greisen engaged in a “campaign of retaliation” against him after he had brought the February event to the city’s attention, and that the city altered the terms and conditions of his employment as a result of his report.

Carpenter’s complaint continues to claim Greisen harassed him verbally and via email, attempted to intimidate him, subjected him to unwarranted criticism for minor issues, required him to perform unnecessary tasks, denied Carpenter reasonable requests without justification and treated him differently than other co-workers.

“I complained to Chief Greisen about his harassment and retaliation and apprised him of the negative impact it was having on me,” Carpenter’s complaint states. “Chief Greisen told me to not come back to work and demanded a doctor’s note affirming I was fit for duty, which I already provided. Chief Greisen then required from that point on I report to him directly instead of to my lieutenant.”

The Spotlight on Friday, March 28, made a records request to view emails between Greisen and Carpenter. As of press time, the city had not responded.

Carpenter’s complaint also touches on Greisen’s appeal of a two-week suspension handed down to him by former City Manager Jon Hanken, which resulted in the formation of a three-member committee made up of city councilors that was tasked with determining whether Hanken’s discipline aligned with existing policy and law.

The committee, called the Personnel Review Committee, was made up of Councilors Barbara Hayden, Jason Meshell and Mark Reed. It issued a recommendation to overturn the discipline against the chief.

“The City Council reversed the city manager’s decision to discipline Chief Greisen and instead forced the city manager to resign,” Carpenter states in his complaint.

Carpenter claims the city put an end to his employment benefits after he filed the initial report.

“[The] respondent has terminated my health insurance and other benefits, and my employment is in jeopardy, while Chief Greisen is currently on paid administrative leave and has been since September 8, 2013,” the complaint states.

Carpenter’s complaint has been assigned to a BOLI instigator, who is exploring its validity. BOLI is a state agency aimed at protecting the rights of workers and citizens for equal, non-discriminatory treatment in the workplace.

Carpenter eventually brought the issue of alleged retaliation to former City Manager Jon Hanken, who at the time had supervisory control over all department heads within the city. This prompted the city to contract LGPI for a second investigation into the Scappoose Police Department to determine the merits of Carpenter’s claims. While that investigation is complete, the Scappoose interim City Manager Don Otterman has denied a request by the Spotlight to obtain a copy of the report.

Otterman also denied a request to view the results of LGPI’s third investigation into Greisen, which was focused on the discovery of bank records tied to an unauthorized account and cash found in a locked drawer in his office. The Spotlight has petitioned that decision to Columbia County District Attorney Stephen Atchison for his legal opinion on whether the report should be released.

Otterman said Carpenter has been on leave for approximately six months, adding the sergeant has not been paid for the entirety of his leave. He said he did not know what period of Carpenter’s leave was paid by the city.

Since he was placed on paid leave last September, Greisen has received his monthly salary, a figure totalling $56,851 as of March 25.

Otterman declined to comment further on the BOLI complaint.

Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said he had not looked too closely into the matter.

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