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Douglas Treat retired from LOPD last year during an investigation into inappropriate comments while on duty.

A Lake Oswego police lieutenant left the department last year after nearly two decades on the force, following accusations that he had repeatedly made inappropriate sexual remarks toward colleagues.

But two months after retiring while under investigation in Lake Oswego, Douglas Treat was hired by the St. Helens Police Department, some 40 miles north. He remains employed in St. Helens as a sergeant, even after members of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training's police policy committee described his behavior as "disturbing" during a February hearing.PMG FILE PHOTO - Former Lake Oswego Police Lt. Douglas Treat.

Treat joined the St. Helens Police Department in July 2020. He previously served in various roles with the Lake Oswego Police Department for 17 years, retiring from the force in Lake Oswego with the rank of lieutenant.

An investigation into Treat turned up numerous allegations against him. Among them were: having an officer mediate a disagreement between him and his wife regarding oral sex; asking an officer if she wore a tight shirt when working at a former job as a waitress; and, after hearing about a domestic violence call involving strangulation, making comments referencing pornography and implying choking was OK.

During the latter incident, Treat allegedly said during a shift briefing "that based upon all the pornography he has seen, that it happens pretty often and they like it," read a June 10, 2020, memorandum former Lake Oswego Police Capt. Scott Thran prepared and sent to Lake Oswego City Manager Martha Bennett.

The findings in the memo stated there were four different alleged comments Treat made that related to porn, and three different allegations against Treat that "included statements made by him that implied domestic violence and/or strangulation or choking was OK."

Members of the DPSST police policy committee, which recommends when to revoke certifications for law enforcement personnel, said reports of Treat's past behavior were "disturbing" and read like "one of our cases from the '80s or '90s that somehow filtered its way back."

But at the hearing this past February, the committee declined to take disciplinary action, convinced that Treat's behavior was ultimately part of a department-wide culture of unprofessional behavior and little accountability — and that the investigation conducted by Lake Oswego into Treat was shoddy.

Documents detail allegations

Lake Oswego initially refused to provide Pamplin Media Group with copies of complaints and investigations into Treat's conduct. Pamplin Media Group appealed that decision, and the Clackamas County district attorney ordered the city to release one record relating to the Treat investigation: a Lake Oswego Police Department memorandum addressed to Thran (with redactions, it was not clear who wrote the memo) that described the initial complaint recorded in early 2020.

The memo listed numerous comments Treat allegedly made in October and November 2019. As described in the memo, one of the employees clearly expressed discomfort in coming forward, feeling nothing would change and it would only make matters worse. One of the employees "just wanted the behavior, and offensive conversations and comments to stop."

Though the memo was redacted to ensure privacy, an employee in a supervising role said they spoke with Treat about his offensive comments and Treat was "caught off guard" but said no more conversations of that nature would continue.

The supervisor later checked in with one of the officers, who said the conversations were "much more professional" but was "skeptical that the behavior would last, noting that Lt. Treat is known for making sexual jokes and derogatory comments towards women."

The memo later stated that after an "Anti-Harassment Training" at the city maintenance building Feb. 18, 2020, the supervisor spoke with one of the officers who said they "could not stop thinking about the incidents" involving Treat. The supervisor felt "obligated to report the incidents based on our conversation, and what I know collectively of the incidents."

The city hired Jeff Staples Investigation and Consulting LLC to conduct a formal investigation, and Thran provided a detailed description of the investigation's findings in the June 2020 memo to Bennett.

DPSST reviewed Thran's memo — which was obtained by Pamplin Media Group through a public records request — as part of the hearing process earlier this year.

Thran wrote that multiple people at the Lake Oswego Police Department were interviewed during the city's investigation, and that they "provided information that suggested an on-going and pervasive use of inappropriate on-duty comments by Lt. Treat which violated both Police Department and City policies."

The city's investigation determined that Treat had repeatedly made sexual comments and jokes to subordinate coworkers. In total, there were roughly 20 accusations of this nature.

The first alleged comment involved Treat asking if a female officer wore a tight shirt at a prior job as a waitress during her time in college.

A sergeant observed that the officer was visibly "mortified" and "embarrassed" by the remark. The officer later told the sergeant "that she was upset by the comment and thought the comment was made to intentionally upset her," Thran's memo stated, adding that the officer said Treat makes sexual comments "all the time."

"It is clear in my mind that he does not have a very good opinion of women in general and that does bother me," the female officer added, as quoted in the memo.

Another allegation referenced comments Treat made about having sex with employees' spouses. One officer said Treat suggested he could perform better sexually for the officer's spouse.

Treat allegedly made other comments and told stories about pornography. One allegation outlines a "racially insensitive" story Treat allegedly told about a traffic stop, in which he and another officer stopped a vehicle with a blonde woman and a Black man inside.

"Treat commented that he told the female if she continued doing what she was doing, she would end up in the 'black on blondes videos,'" the memo stated, citing a coworker who reported hearing the story. That coworker allegedly recalled Treat "telling this story in a prideful way, saying that Lt. Treat said the other officer that was with him seemed shocked that Lt. Treat could get away with saying this."

Treat also allegedly shared explicit details about his dreams with fellow officers.

A sergeant said while carpooling to a training with Treat and another sergeant, Treat "told them how he had a dream that night," Thran's memo stated, citing the sergeant who was allegedly involved in the conversation. Treat was reported to be "very descriptive and that the dream involved Treat having anal sex" with the two sergeants.

Treat either denied or said he did not recall making all of the alleged remarks, or he retired before being questioned by the investigators about them specifically.

Officials decline to take action

Treat told the DPSST review committee that Lake Oswego ignored his repeated requests for a copy of the investigation findings and that the DPSST staff report was the first time he saw many of the allegations against him.

"I have no idea how an investigator conducts a fair, unbiased investigation aimed at uncovering the truth when it continues on without talking to all parties," Treat said to the committee during the February hearing.

Lake Oswego's assistant city manager, Megan Phelan, said Treat's attorney made two requests — one in July 2020 and one in December 2020 — for records related to Treat's investigation.

"Mr. Treat retired effective May 7, 2020, and therefore, was no longer employed by the city when these requests were made," Phelan said in an email to Pamplin Media Group. "In general, personnel records are exempt from disclosure and although some documents were provided to Mr. Treat's attorney, the investigation report was not."

Treat said the allegations and investigation into his conduct led him to have "no trust in the majority of the sergeants and command staff" at the Lake Oswego Police Department. He contended that some of the findings were "completely inaccurate representations" of his statements to the investigator.

"I said some stupid things, statements I'm very sorry I made and have learned from them and will never repeat," Treat said during the DPSST hearing.

But he maintained that the allegations of sexual harassment were false.

"I don't like the subject matter, I feel dirty for having not just read it, but studied it, ruminated on it," said John Teague, Keizer police chief and chair of the DPSST police policy committee. "But it seems — and I hate to say this — it seems that Mr. Treat's conduct reflected the culture of the agency, rather than his conduct being disruptive to the agency."

Lake Oswego Police Chief Dale Jorgensen told Pamplin Media Group that as soon as the allegations came to light after that February 2020 harassment training, the department began taking steps to address the issue.

Jorgensen said on Feb. 25, Treat was moved to a different position in the department, and then on March 19, he was placed on administrative leave.

"I think it's demonstrated that the steps that we took don't necessarily reflect what the committee thinks. We made sure that we took positive steps to make sure that wasn't the culture in our department," Jorgensen said. "For the committee to make those — I can't speak to the committee's thought process — but I know none of them have reached out to ask us about what our culture is and, therefore, they are assuming from one case what that culture is and have no background as to what our culture really is."

Other DPSST committee members noted the extent of the list of allegations that took place prior to the initial complaint that prompted the investigation.

"Somehow this was allowed to persist apparently openly for a decade without any action at all, and then it comes as this huge cascade — about half of which wasn't really investigated at all," said Alex Gardner, a committee member representing Oregon State Police command staff, at the meeting.

The allegations snowballed to the point where "everybody gets to pile on without providing the sort of due process that our system requires," Gardner added.

"So, I feel dirty about it," Gardner continued. "But if we take (disciplinary) action, we're not really providing due process that our system requires."

DPSST committee members said the performance reviews of Treat that they had reviewed from his time in Lake Oswego were glowing.

The eventual fallout that precipitated Treat's resignation seemed like a "cascade of accountability" after more than 13 years as lieutenant, wherein his behavior was "overlooked and affirmed and reinforced," Teague said.

The fellow law enforcement officials reviewing Treat's case noted that Treat was far from an entry-level employee following the model set by higher-ups.

"This case paints a picture of an organization that is very concerning," said Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis. "But at what point — especially in a small agency, where a lieutenant is essentially one of the number three people in the entire organization — do we as leaders have a responsibility to understand that this culture exists and to do something about it?"

Transitioning from Lake Oswego to St. Helens

Treat told the DPSST committee that his new boss, St. Helens Police Chief Brian Greenway, "thoroughly vetted my actions at Lake Oswego" and saw the investigation "for what it was: a hatchet job."

Greenway did not respond to a request for comment or to confirm Treat's statements.

A spokesperson for the city said St. Helens police officials "conduct thorough interviews and background checks prior to making a job offer."

"We hold our officers to high standards, and we are committed to addressing any performance and conduct issues that arise at our agency. We do not comment on the specifics of HR matters," spokesperson Crystal King wrote in an email to Pamplin Media Group.

Treat did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Phelan said St. Helens reached out to Lake Oswego as part of Treat's background check.

"We fully cooperated and we made the investigation available to them for their review," Phelan said.

Treat has already been promoted twice in his eight months in St. Helens.

Regrets in Lake Oswego

Jorgensen, the Lake Oswego police chief, said if he were made aware of the issues with Treat sooner, he would have taken immediate action.

"We obviously didn't know of the previous stuff that had happened years before. That I can't speak about: who knew and who didn't know," said Jorgensen, who has been with the Lake Oswego Police Department since 1997 and took over as chief in 2018. "I know that we didn't know about it, and when it was brought to our attention, in this case, we took positive steps to make sure our culture allowed for people to report these types of incidents to us."PMG FILE PHOTO - Lake Oswego Police Chief Dale Jorgensen.

Jorgensen noted that the law now requires officers to report such incidents to their supervisor.

"It's not only with discrimination and harassment, but it's also with use of force and some other things. They have now a duty to intercede, and so we've had education opportunities to do that with our whole department," Jorgensen said. "We really feel that with the new law changes and with our education we've had with our team, that that's a big step toward making sure everybody knows the playing field and will be able to report when they have those concerns."

Jorgensen added that if he could go back in time, he would have been more present for the officers who came forward in the initial complaint.

"This was something that these officers had to deal with for a couple months without coming forward and letting us know," he said. "It's too bad that it wasn't done earlier and if I could change things, that's the one thing I would change. I would go back and make sure that they came forward sooner."

Jorgensen said the department is always looking to diversify its staff, "whether it's in gender or race or ethnicity."

"The more diverse our workforce — not only in policing but in the city — becomes, the more unacceptable such behavior becomes and gets us to a point where everybody feels valued and everybody feels safe to report these kinds of incidents," he said.

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