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James Dallaire, 4, reacts after Roseburg police officer Sky Woods handed him a badge sticker at Stewart Park on Wednesday evening.

As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called a special legislative session Tuesday to address COVID-19 and police reform, law enforcement leaders say oversight and accountability are firmly in place in Douglas County.

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein said in an email, “The Roseburg Police Department is committed to holding our officers accountable on every level.”

In the wake of calls for police reform across the country, Brown said Tuesday she will convene a special session next week to look at how to improve police accountability following weeks of protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The move comes as prosecutors in Atlanta brought murder charges Wednesday against the white police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back, saying Brooks was not a deadly threat.

Klopfenstein is one of several law enforcement leaders in Douglas County who believe a good foundation already exists to maintain oversight of police officers in Oregon.

Klopfenstein said the department believes that honesty, integrity and justice are the standards and values by which they are judged. He said police officers in Oregon get good training.

“We believe the state of Oregon currently has some of the highest standards for law enforcement in the country and are always willing to participate in thoughtful discussion with the community and our lawmakers regarding our practices,” Klopfenstein said.

Sutherlin Police Chief Troy Mills agrees that Oregon has a good training program for officers.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Mills said. “Oregon is one of the leaders in law enforcement training.”

Winston Police Chief Brandon Sarti said he’s confident that his department holds its officers to a high standard and that the standard is enforced.

“I want to hold police officers accountable, there’s no doubt about that, I think we should and we do,” Sarti said. “In our community and our county, we do.”

One of the claims has been that union contracts make it harder to get rid of a bad officer. Mills said that’s not an issue.

“If an officer gets in trouble, they end up having (the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training) look over the case anyway, through their committee, so their certifications are typically pulled,” Mills said.

Sarti said in Winston, the union contracts have never been an impediment for disciplinary issues.

“If I have a bad apple, I don’t care if they’re in a union contract or not, we would deal with it appropriately,” Sarti said.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin declined to comment on the special session, which begins next Wednesday in Salem and will have several measures on the agenda addressing police accountability issues.

One bill would ban the use of chokeholds; another would create a statewide police discipline database; one is a measure to have the attorney general lead investigations when police use of force results in death or serious injury; and a bill would make it easier for police officers to be fired if found guilty of misconduct; and another requiring officers to report misconduct of other officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Reporter

Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

(6) comments

Mike

I'm not sure why my comment keeps printing off the page. I guess I'll give it another try.

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein is quoted saying, “The Roseburg Police Department is committed to holding our officers accountable on every level.” But is that really true?

The NRToday reported in June, 2018 that Roseburg Officer Nathan Thomas was allowed to resign after Roseburg Police Department began an internal investigation into his criminal misconduct. Then acting Police Chief Klopfenstein refused to provide details of Officer Thomas’s criminal activity, claiming it was “against the department’s policy to comment on any investigation.”

Oregon’s Board of Public Safety Standards and Training suspended, but did not revoke Officer Thomas’s law enforcement certification. Officer Thomas’s continued certification allows him to work for a police department or sheriff's department in another Oregon city where he can continue to conduct criminal activity.

If Chief Klopfenstein truly holds his officers accountable on every level, why did he not charge Officer Thomas with a crime for his “criminal misconduct” rather than simply allowing Officer Thomas to resign? Does Chief Klopfenstein let drug deals go as long as they sell their drugs in another city? Furthermore, why did Chief Klopfenstein allow Officer Thomas to retain his law enforcement certification so he can take his criminal ways to another Oregon police department? I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider that holding officers accountable on every level.

Mike

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:BTFOTx18JVkJ:https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/BD/Policy_Committee_Minutes/BPSST_Minutes/Board012320.pdf+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Mike

Clackamas County deputy who knelt on black 12-year-old boy’s neck has left him in ‘fear of police.

https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2020/06/clackamas-county-deputy-who-knelt-on-black-12-year-old-boys-neck-has-left-him-in-fear-of-police-300000-lawsuit-says.html

Mike

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein is quoted saying, “The Roseburg Police Department is committed to holding our officers accountable on every level.” But is that really true?

The NRToday reported in June, 2018 that Officer Nathan Thomas was allowed to resign after Roseburg Police Department began an internal investigation into his criminal misconduct. Acting Police Chief Klopfenstein refused to provide details of Officer Thomas’s criminal activity, claiming it was “against the department’s policy to comment on any investigation.”

Oregon’s Board of Public Safety Standards and Training suspended, but did not revoke Officer Thomas’s law enforcement certification. Officer Thomas’s continued certification allowed him to work for a police department in another Oregon city where he can continue to conduct criminal activity.

If Chief Klopfenstein truly holds his officers accountable on every level, why did he not charge Officer Thomas with a crime for his “criminal misconduct” rather than simply allowing Officer Thomas to resign? Why did Chief Klopfenstein allow Officer Thomas to retain his law enforcement certification so he can take his criminal ways to another Oregon police department? I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider that holding officers accountable on every level.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:BTFOTx18JVkJ:https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/BD/Policy_Committee_Minutes/BPSST_Minutes/Board012320.pdf+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Mike

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein is quoted saying, “The Roseburg Police Department is committed to holding our officers accountable on every level.” But is that really true?

The NRToday reported in June, 2018 that Officer Nathan Thomas was allowed to resign after Roseburg Police Department began an internal investigation into his criminal misconduct. Acting Police Chief Klopfenstein refused to provide details of Officer Thomas’s criminal activity, claiming it was “against the department’s policy to comment on any investigation.”

Oregon’s Board of Public Safety Standards and Training suspended, but did not revoke Officer Thomas’s law enforcement certification. Officer Thomas’s continued certification allows him to work for a police department in another Oregon city where he can continue to conduct criminal activity.

If Chief Klopfenstein truly holds his officers accountable on every level, why did he not charge Officer Thomas with a crime for his “criminal misconduct” rather than simply allowing Officer Thomas to resign? Why did Chief Klopfenstein allow Officer Thomas to retain his law enforcement certification so he can take his criminal ways to another Oregon police department? I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider Officer Thomas's slap on the hand holding officers accountable on every level.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:BTFOTx18JVkJ:https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/BD/Policy_Committee_Minutes/BPSST_Minutes/Board012320.pdf+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Mike

Expect periodic protests through eternity until "Officer's Bill of Rights" and "Qualified Immunity" laws that prevent law enforcement from being fired or sued for criminal acts or misconduct, are repealed. Proposed laws banning choke holds, no-knock warrants and promises to defund police departments are all window dressings and easy to offer up to preserve law enforcements get out of jail free cards. If the "Officer's Bill of Rights" and "Qualified Immunity" are abolished, ALL of the other proposed changes will be redundant.

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