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Police chief issue needs a resolution soon

In September, City of Prineville leaders announced that Police Chief Eric Bush had been put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation involving a personnel matter.

Six months have since passed since the news broke and there doesn’t appear to be any conclusion coming in the near future.

This is not a good situation for a number of reasons, and we would hope that the investigation soon comes to a close so that the city, its police department, and citizens can move on.

Since we first learned that Bush was put on paid leave, information about the decision has been very limited. City officials have stayed mum, only stating that it is a personnel matter that is being investigated by a third-party organization. Attempts on the part of the Central Oregonian to learn more about even the timeframe of the case have only revealed that city leaders hope to resolve the matter “soon.”

Earlier this month, some new information came out about the case, but it didn’t exactly suggest that a public conclusion will come any time soon. Turns out that the Local Government Personnel Institute, which is conducting the investigation, is having difficulty contacting military witnesses. Although Bush serves as a brigadier general for the Oregon National Guard, the reason why a city personnel matter requires such witnesses was not disclosed.

As this investigation continues, six months and counting, we feel this situation needs to reach a conclusion as soon as possible. Bush is on paid leave, which means city tax dollars are still paying his salary. The longer this takes, the more citizens will pay for his absence.

In addition, the growing length of time opens the door for increased curiosity, speculation about what is going on, and possibly unfounded rumors. People have regularly contacted us to find out what the deal is with the police chief investigation. They wonder what it’s all about and when it will end. We do too.

Finally, the presence of an unresolved investigation casts a dark shadow on a police department that has to continue to do its job.

To be fair, we suspect the city’s hands are tied until this matter is resolved. As another entity conducts its investigation, local officials cannot talk about the details that led to it, and rightfully so. However, we hope, for their sake as well as those of the citizens, that this investigation doesn’t drag on much longer. If city goverment has any influence on the timeframe, we hope it pushes as hard as possible. Otherwise, the longer this takes, the worse it is for everyone involved.



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