Clackamas County commissioners have accepted a request from Sheriff Craig Roberts for an independent review of investigative policies.
The action followed a meeting Tuesday (July 11) between Roberts and two commissioners — Chairman Jim Bernard and Sonya Fischer — and arose from the criminal prosecution of a former detective.
Jeffrey Green pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges on June 29 and was sentenced in Clackamas County Circuit Court to one year of probation and a fine. He was charged with official misconduct in connection with failure to investigate numerous criminal cases, including reports of child abuse.
Green retired in 2015 after 22 years in the office, six of them as a detective. As part of his sentencing, Green loses his certification as a police officer.
Roberts drew criticism, particularly from a public member of the county budget committee, for how his office handled the internal investigation of Green and the assignment, tracking and other procedures for child-abuse cases.
Ed Mura of Colton cast the lone vote against committee approval of the budget on June 6. He praised Sgt. Matt Swanson by name for his perseverance in investigating Green, but criticized Roberts and others on the sheriff's management team for numerous problems in the agency.
The commissioners and Roberts will select the consultant from a recommended list, and the review is expected to be complete by Sept. 30.
The meeting with Roberts was limited to two commissioners, one short of a quorum that is required to do business in a public session under Oregon law.
Fischer said in a statement:
"Sheriff Roberts' request for a review demonstrates his integrity. He is an independently elected officeholder who is working collaboratively and transparently and who shares the same mission as us, to protect the public and victims of crime."
Under Oregon law, the sheriff's budget is subject to approval by the county commissioners and five public members on the budget committee — but the sheriff has complete leeway to manage the agency subject to state law.
Roberts said he has already acted on recommendations by another outside consultant on protocols for child-abuse reports.
"I am confident these improvements are effective and that a situation like Green's cannot occur in the future without detection," he said in a letter to commissioners. "I believe it is important, however, to take another look at our detective processes to make sure we have done everything necessary to ensure the best practices are in place."
Also at their Tuesday policy session, which was open, Bernard said he asked the sheriff's management team to look more closely into complaints by rural neighbors about bad behavior by some marijuana growers.
Mura mentioned the general issue during his June 6 dissent.
"Working toward national or local awards isn't a bad thing. But they mean nothing … to the citizens of Clackamas County who have to deal with bad neighbors," he said in a statement after his vote.
Commissioners also heard similar complaints during the public-comment portion of their July 6 business meeting. One of the complainants said that an official reading of an operating bulldozer in the early morning hours appeared to violate the county's noise standard — but that no action was taken against the offender.
Bernard said he asked Undersheriff Matt Ellington to look more closely into the matter with the deputy who responded to the noise complaint.
The commissioners have wrestled with how to enforce new zoning-code regulations on marijuana cultivation and processing — Clackamas County's provisions are regarded as some of the strictest in Oregon — without interfering with state agency regulations under Oregon's 2014 ballot measure approving legalization. The hiring of a code enforcement officer is pending, but that person would not enforce state rules.