In appeal, Greisen says investigator failed to consider a personal grudge against him

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - GreisenAn investigative report into Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen’s actions during a Feb. 4 police pursuit shows Greisen recommended what amounted to the use of lethal force against a non-injury hit and run offender, among other violations.

The report provides insight to the missteps Greisen was found to have committed during the vehicle pursuit that involved both Greisen and former Scappoose Police officer Anthony Miltich.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from Scappoose Police Lt. Norm Miller to City Manager Jon Hanken concerning the pursuit. In a memo to Hanken, Miller wrote he was approached by Scappoose Police Sgt. Douglas Carpenter, who said he was upset the chief wasn’t held to the same standards as other officers after learning of the pursuit and its outcome, and said the incident needed to be investigated.

The 25-page report prepared by the Local Government Personnel Institute, an independent human resources and investigative agency widely used by Oregon cities and counties, resulted in the city’s findings that Greisen had violated 10 of the city’s policies and procedures for police officers. The Spotlight requested the city disclose the report in accordance with Oregon public records law.

The incident in question involves a vehicle pursuit initiated by a non-injury misdemeanor hit and run in the parking lot of Fred Meyer in Scappoose. The violator fled south on Highway 30 and made two evasive U-turns during the chase. The chase resulted in a Pursuit Intervention Tactic, or PIT, maneuver by Miltich following Greisen’s recommendation.

A PIT maneuver is a ramming tactic used to spin violating cars 180 degrees. By departmental policies, PIT maneuvers are to be conducted only by trained police officers at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour.

Neither Greisen or Miltich were trained to execute such a maneuver and did so traveling at an estimated 55 mph, which is considered to be the use of lethal force, according to the LGPI report.

In an LDPI interview, Greisen said he felt the use of lethal force was necessary.

The report includes the following details in regard to the Feb. 4 pursuit:

• Miltich received a police call Feb. 4 at 6:41 p.m. of a non-injury hit-and-run in the Scappoose Fred Meyer parking lot. Mitlich drove to the scene with his overhead lights on but no siren. No information was relayed to suggest the suspect vehicle was aggressively fleeing the scene.

• Greisen announced over the same radio frequency he was going “out” from a city council meeting.

• Miltich pursued the vehicle northbound on Highway 30 before the suspect made a U-turn south. Miltich continued his pursuit using no siren.

• A motorist narrowly avoided being side-swiped by the fleeing suspect and was also endangered by Miltich. Since Miltich wasn’t using his siren, the motorist had no time to move out of the way of either vehicle in the chase.

• In an interview with the LGPI investigator, Sgt. Carpenter said Miltich had been documented as driving too fast for general and response and has demonstrated a lack of common sense related to his driving.

• Greisen left a city council meeting to assist with the chase, disregarding policy related to procedure for a secondary pursuing vehicle by not announcing to dispatch his intent to assume control of the pursuit, the report states.

• The LGPI investigative report states, in an interview between the LGPI investigator and Greisen, “Greisen said his motivation was to help Miltich and he had thoughts of ‘Ralph,’ a reference to the police chief of Rainier who had been killed earlier.”

• Greisen had no knowledge of the nature of the initial police call aside from that it “sounded like a cluster.” Other officers in close proximity to the chase were not called to proper secondary pursuit position.

• Greisen drove to the chase through downtown Scappoose in an unauthorized, unmarked and improperly equipped police vehicle. The SUV Greisen used to enter the chase did not have an overhead light bar, meaning the vehicle offered no illumination to traffic approaching from side intersections.

• Miltich advised dispatch he was following said suspect at 60 mph. Greisen, unannounced, overtook Miltich, assuming a “primary” pursuit position. Based on Miltich’s speed of 55 to 60 mph, he estimated Greisen overtook him at a speed of 80 mph.

• Greisen continued until adjacent with the suspect vehicle, which swerved toward him, according to the report, forcing Greisen to swerve into the left turn median. Greisen continued to drive adjacent to the suspect vehicle.

• Greisen told the investiagor he maintained his position adjacent to the suspect vehicle so the suspect would hit him rather than oncoming traffic. When questioned, Greisen acknowledged the suspect could have pushed him into oncoming traffic, and that any resulting collision would likely have been fatal.

• Greisen said in an LGPI interview the suspect looked “deranged — he didn’t care, it scared me.”

• At 6:50 p.m. near Rocky Point Road, Greisen asked Miltich, “Do you want to PIT him?” Miltich replied, “10-9” (radio code for repeat message). In an interview with the LGPI investigator, Miltich said he asked Greisen to repeat the message because he was surprised by the suggestion.

• Greisen asked Miltich if he wanted to PIT the suspect again. Miltich replied, “Sure, I will.”

• Miltich later told an LGPI investigator he didn’t think the PIT request was an unlawful order, just contrary to policy and added he thought the maneuver was supposed to occur at 15 to 30 mph.

• Greisen moved out of the way and Miltich executed the PIT maneuver at an estimated speed of 55 mph without having been trained to do so.

• Greisen said, in a later interview with the LGPI investigator, his total knowledge of police PIT tactics came from having seen police chases on TV. Greisen also told the LGPI investigator he felt lethal force was necessary.

• A review of Greisen’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training record by the LGPI investigator reflected no recognized Emergency Vehicle Operator Course or pursuit intervention training since 1987.

• After the PIT maneuver had been executed, and the suspect apprehended, Greisen approached Miltich and asked him if he had ever had any PIT training.

• Miltich replied, “No,” and Greisen complimented him on the execution of the maneuver.

No EVOC training in two years

In an interview with the LGPI investigator, Greisen said the department has not conducted any EVOC training within the last two years. Greisen said the lack of training was a “matter of budget” in regard to being able to secure a training site and pay for the time and space.

Scott Burge, mayor of Scappoose, said the budget excuse holds little ground since the city tacks $25 onto every ticket, which goes into a training fund to train Scappoose police officers.

Burge said there is $38,000 to $39,000 currently in the fund and it generates about $19,000 per year.

In a notice of disciplinary action to Greisen, Hanken wrote, “After reading this report and being debriefed by the investigator, you seem to view your position as being above Scappoose Police Department’s policies, as well as all other laws in general.”

In the notice, Hanken emphasized that Greisen was not to retaliate or otherwise strike back at any member of the Scappoose Police Department. Greisen is currently suspended with pay pending the outcome of an LGPI investigation into his running of a hostile work place and retaliating against police staff.

The LGPI report states a secondary concern arising from the original complaint was that a member of the department felt Greisen had subjected him to a form of retaliation for having brought up concerns of the pursuit.

In an interview with Carpenter, the report states, “Sgt. Carpenter said after he made his complaint, he had an encounter with the chief, where in essence, Sgt. Carpenter told the Chief he was tired of how irresponsible the Chief can be on occasion. Sgt. Carpenter said the chief later required him to participate in a fitness for duty evaluation.”

In an appeal notice of disciplinary action, Greisen wrote, “The investigator never once considers whether the primary complaint carried any bias or personal grudge against me. In fact, this is exactly the case, and the complainant has been ‘out to get me’ for reasons that I can explain. In short, it is self evident that the investigator was ‘played’ and not having any practical personnel experience, he fell for it ‘hook, line and sinker.’”

Greisen continued, writing that the report excludes his “extensive training” and “extensive practical experience.”

“Most significantly,” Greisen wrote, “the report fails to take into consideration the important and fundamental fact that: ‘the bad guy was caught and nobody got hurt.’ With this last point it is not inconceivable that a policy wonk, hidden among regulations with little actual experience, may misperceive the bigger picture, but it is disappointing that the City Manager has also failed to exercise broader insight and judgement.”

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