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Woodburn officers allege retaliation from brass

WOODBURN — Woodburn police officers say their commanders have retaliated against them for reporting misconduct and potential criminal activity among superiors.

The allegations come in a notice of intent to sue the city filed by a lawyer on behalf of officers Jarrod Bowers, Peter Lichte and Daniel Kelly, The Oregonian reported.

Among the allegations are that a sergeant tried to assault a subordinate's girlfriend by leaping nude into the couple's bed, and there was no criminal investigation. Another officer claims no investigation was done on his report that a bag of methamphetamine and a pipe may have been planted in his patrol car.

“The message is clear: ‘Go along and get along’ with anything the command structure presently in place at Woodburn P.D. demands,” wrote attorney Jeffrey H. Boiler, who filed the notice in November. “Do so even if it conceals known improper or openly unlawful activity by command officers.”

Boiler said he intends to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city of Woodburn and several members of the command staff.

Police Chief Scott Russell, who has been on medical leave since Oct. 28, said he's aware of the tort claim.

“I believe that the city has appropriately addressed these concerns, and I am confident that this matter has been handled correctly,” he said in a written response.

Other allegations in the tort claim notice are that Bowers was placed on administrative leave after he complained that a superior humiliated a female crime victim by sharing the victim's nude photos with other police supervisors, sometimes in the victim's presence. Meanwhile, Lichte and Kelly complained of a hostile work environment.

Woodburn's human resources director, Michael R. Hereford, interviewed 10 people and concluded there were “no facts sufficient to support a finding that there is or was a hostile work environment,” according to his September memo to the police chief.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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