State blocked portion of Heidt discipline
However, while a state arbitrator upheld his demotion in response to his grievance filing, it ordered the city to reinstate his withheld pay, records show.
Although the city initially declined to indicate whether Heidt had been disciplined with regard to either the off-duty Seaside incident or an on-duty 2010 incident in which he broke a bystander’s elbow and ribs in a seemingly unprovoked attack, state records detail action taken in the Seaside case because he mounted a formal challenge. And state records show Noble took a decidedly dim view of Heidt’s conduct.
Although Seaside police opted not to charge Heidt in connection with the incident, he had broken several state laws and brought discredit on his department, Noble said in his disciplinary findings.
“I find that your actions have compromised your credibility and the organization’s confidence in your ability to supervise and lead others,” Noble wrote in a letter notifying Heidt of his decision. “I find that throughout this process, you have not taken personal responsibility for your actions that is required of all supervisors in this department. I believe that you can succeed and I am more than willing to help you do so, but at this time, I can not allow you to continue in a supervisory position.”
Heidt gave this account in an arbitration hearing challenging his demotion:
He was off-duty in Seaside, attending a basketball tournament his daughter was participating in, while his wife was out of town. He stayed at a rental house with friends Angela and Carey Rhoads, the latter a Carlton city councilor.
Heidt began drinking about 4 in the afternoon. By the time the fight took place in the early morning hours, he had an estimated 12 or 13 drinks.
The problem began when, for undetermined reasons, he pushed another man to the floor.
Bouncers said the victim, Adam Bodine, stood several inches shorter, weighed at least 120 pounds less and his right arm was in a cast. They said he flew several feet through the air.
Arbitrator Kathryn Whalen said that accounts differ about whether Bodine started the encounter by making provocative remarks. But she said Heidt could have walked away, regardless.
Bouncers asked Heidt, Bodine and their assorted friends to leave, and Bodine’s friends attacked Heidt outside.
Both Heidt and Rhoads left the scene before police arrived. But Heidt, whose blood alcohol registered .24, three times the .08 marking the presumptive level of legal intoxication, went to the wrong house.
He pounded on and kicked the door, shouted and demanded access, then went around and began attempting to get in the back door. A woman at the residence with her children called police to report the intrusion attempts.
Police ended up handcuffing him and taking him in for detox, but not charging him.
McMinnville police conducted an internal affairs investigation in response, using Seaside police reports and videos to assist them. Noble concluded that Heidt had violated several state laws, including harassment, disorderly conduct, second-degree criminal mischief and second-degree trespassing, as well as various department policies.
Whalen ruled, however, “To the extent the employer’s discipline was founded on state criminal law violations, I find those reasons were inappropriate and conclude the evidence insufficient for this arbitration proceeding.”
While Noble had considered Heidt’s previous lack of disciplinary actions in his ruling, she concluded he had not given that sufficient weight. “It is the city’s inappropriate reliance on violations of state criminal law, and grievant’s work record, that convince me that grievant’s discipline should be reduced,” she wrote in her findings.
However, she continued, “I find, like Noble, that grievant to a large extent has failed to take responsibility for his actions. … it is reasonable that management lacks confidence in grievant’s leadership and does not want grievant to continue in a supervisory position.”
Along the way, Heidt’s wife, a 16-year-employee who held a top management position with the police department, was fired for trying to rally the union to his defense. (See related story)
Heidt and the department are now defendants in a federal lawsuit over the 2010 case in which Heidt stands accused of attacking a Latino man without apparent cause and giving him a severe beating, breaking several of his bones. That case, filed in federal district court in Portland by a Portland attorney, did not come to public light until last week.
The county sheriff’s office also was named in the lawsuit, because a sheriff’s deputy joined in while the victim was on the ground, trying to cover his face and fend off the blows. The incident was caught on videotape, but the tape recently came to light around the time of the subsequent Seaside incident.