Friday, July 6, 2007
The Hood River City Police Department will be shaken up next week by a series of disciplinary actions.
Steve Everroad, city personnel director, said Chief Bruce Ludwig, Lt. David Thompson and Officer Erin Mason have all come under scrutiny in recent weeks.
“The whole situation is unfortunate and unnecessary. However, it is real and management has an obligation to see that general orders, personnel policy in Oregon and administrative rules are followed,” Everroad said Friday.
He declined to reveal the specifics of disciplinary action pending against Thompson and Mason until after a meeting on Monday. He did verify that the lieutenant faced sanctions tied to the results of a gender discrimination complaint filed by Officer Tiffany Hicks. He said Mason would be held accountable for remarks made during an off-duty telephone call to a dispatcher. In that call on a recorded line, the officer admitted to being intoxicated.
Everroad said the decision to retain or remove Mason from the Mid-Columbia Interagency Narcotics Task Force will also be made next week.
Everroad and Bob Francis, city manager, have already met with Ludwig to provide “guidance and leadership.” Everroad would not provide specifics about new policies and procedures the chief had been ordered to adopt and enact.
“Management has strongly recommended a course of action that we assume will be taken,” he said.
Everroad said all police personnel were required to attend a training class against sexual harassment and discrimination last week. He said operational changes will now be made in the way the department does business to ward off future problems.
“The chief has been told that there are some things he needs to do to fix an unacceptable environment,” he said.
Everroad said a consultant from Public Safety Liability Management Inc. was hired by the city to investigate the complaint brought forward by Hicks in late May. She requested intervention from city management after the chief appointed Mason, a less experienced officer, to fill the vacancy on MINT.
According to Everroad, the scope of the investigation into gender discrimination widened as other problems surfaced within the department. He declined to cite examples until the disciplinary process is complete.
The chief had already drawn fire from the Hood River Police Officer’s Association for promoting Mason without following established policy. No other officers were given the opportunity to apply for the position as outlined in that policy.
Ludwig agreed to resolve HRPOA’s grievance by advertising the position and he then re-appointed Mason.
Ludwig created a MINT vacancy in April by removing a detective over a $17.34 accounting error. He also claimed the officer had been “disloyal” to the department. However, that individual reiterated this week that he was never provided with facts by the chief to back up the accusation.
Hood River District Attorney John Sewell has sharply criticized Ludwig for shutting down local MINT operations with his actions. The county prosecutor is tying up the only remaining case from the undercover operation that has crossed his desk since the chief suspended the city’s detective from duty in February.
MINT operates with funding and law enforcement representatives from the Oregon State Police, cities of Hood River and The Dalles, and both Wasco and Hood River counties.
“There have been some very good investigators on the team in the past and some of the officers on the team now are very capable,” said Sewell.
“If there’s a problem now it’s due to mismanagement by the police agency supervisors who have the responsibility for directing the team.”
Mason heightened the controversy at the police department by making the June 13 call on a non-emergency line to the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center.
During almost 24 minutes of dialogue, he violated department policy by requesting the telephone number of a woman for personal reasons. He also made sexual innuendos mixed with negative references about gender, at least one ethnic group, and homosexuals.
In addition, Mason revealed not only that he was working with MINT, but the name of another officer who worked undercover.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge