By News-Register staff • 

Brian Casey reinstated as Newberg police chief

Police Chief Brian Casey
Police Chief Brian Casey

Acting City Manager Terry Mahr, who was appointed last night by Newberg city council, has taken Police Chief Brian Casey off of leave. 

Casey had been placed on administrative leave last Wednesday by City Manager Jacque Betz pending an independent assessment of his department. In a surprising turn, Betz found herself the focus of a criminal investigation Sunday, when Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry asked the Marion County District Attorney's office and the Oregon State Police to investigate Betz. Betz was then placed on leave by the city council at an emergency meeting Monday morning. 

Casey will now remain on duty as chief as the assessment of his department moves forward. Betz was appointed city manager last summer and was about to receive her annual evaluation when she was placed on leave. 

Mayor Bob Andrews released the following statement with Mahr:

The past week has been difficult for the City of Newberg and the broader community. We have seen the best in citizens who respectfully participated in the democratic process and expressed their concerns to their elected officials. We understand the citizen's desire and need for information. Rest assured, your voices have been heard.

The Newberg City Charter is the equivalent of a city constitution. Voters in the 2006 General Election adopted the current version. Voters adopted a City Manager form of government, in which the Council hires and supervises three positions: City Manager, City Attorney and Municipal Judge. Only the City Manager may appoint, supervise and remove city employees. The Council may discuss or suggest city business with the City Manager in council meetings, but the Charter prohibits the Council from making employment decisions regarding city employees or in any way coercing such decisions.

Within this framework, the City Manager is not required to notify the Council before placing an employee on leave. The Council was surprised as many of you were when informed by the City Manager she was placing Chief Casey on administrative leave without explanation. Although it is impossible to know for certain, had the Council been consulted earlier in the process, a different course of action may have occurred. This has been stressful on all involved, including Chief Casey and his extended family.

Today, the City Manager Pro Tem has taken Police Chief Brian Casey off administrative leave. With the cooperation and support of Chief Casey, a new and different approach will be taken under the direction of outside legal counsel. The purpose will be to assess indications that there may be room for improvement in the communications and relationships within our Police Department. The assessments made will serve to reinforce what is working well in the police department and where improvements may be made, if any. This process is one in which the Police Chief does not need to be on administrative leave. Both Chief Casey and City Manager Pro Tem Terry Mahr look forward to working collaboratively and cooperatively to ensure the Police Department is a rewarding place to work and thrive for all.

Drew Boggs, spokesperson for the Newberg-Dundee Safety Public Association stated that the Association "supports moving quickly and believes a fair and impartial assessment is necessary and warranted. The Association is dedicated to providing the best police services to the community."

The City of Newberg strives to provide its citizens the best service possible, while retaining those special qualities that make Newberg a unique community and special place for City employees to work.

City Manager Betz will remain on administrative leave until the City knows more about the criminal investigation conducted by the Marion County District Attorney's office. All questions regarding this investigation should be directed to the office of the Marion County District Attorney.



So, what exactly happened? Anyone?