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Gladstone Police Chief Jim Pryde retired suddenly on Sunday, March 1, only a month after he had announced that he wouldn’t retire until July 1.

Photo Credit: GPD - PrydeIn a Friday, Feb. 27, letter to Gladstone department heads and police officers, Pryde offered little explanation for expediting his retirement date that he had previously said he had planned last year:

“After 38 years of policing it’s time to turn in the gear and begin a new chapter. The city has been very good to me in allowing me to leave on my own terms. It has been an honor to lead GPD to a better place. I’ve had a lot of help along the way as we’ve negotiated some difficult roads these past almost six years.”

In recent years, Gladstone city councilors have expressed their displeasure in Pryde’s handling of the incident of a police dog that bit its canine officer and other members of the Gladstone Police Department, forcing the dismantling of GPD’s canine unit last year.

“It’s been an interesting couple of years on the City Council working with the chief,” said Gladstone City Councilor Neal Reisner.

Concerns then arose over Pryde’s trips out of town as a paid consultant while he was on salary through the city of Gladstone. Pryde went to the Junction City Police Department in September for an organization assessment during which Gladstone taxpayers were paying $2,357 toward his salary and benefits. Pryde’s trip to Alexandria, Va., for the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s focus group in January used about $1,200 in taxpayer funding, based on his hourly wages and benefits costing $74.82 an hour. Pryde was selected by the IACP for his experience as a chief of a smaller law enforcement agency, an article he co-authored with consultant Rod Brown on policing public policy that was published in IACP’s “Police Chief” magazine and his work on IACP’s Police Administration Committee. Pryde’s trips were approved by Pryde’s boss, City Administrator Pete Boyce, and City Council can’t make police-chief firing decisions under city charter.

“The chief and the city mutually decided to move up his retirement date in order to speed up the transition for the department,” Boyce said.

Boyce’s contract is up for renewal in June, and the topic of a new police chief will likely remain a discussion in Gladstone for much of 2015.

“I’m still frustrated that Junction City knew about this two or three weeks before we did, and we’re working with our administrator about communication,” Reisner said.

Meanwhile, a former Gladstone police sergeant still faces murder-for-hire charges, providing another black eye for GPD with the case implicating a high-profile 26-year veteran of the forced emerged in 2012, 18 months after the May 2011 slaying. The case has been dragging on in pre-trial hearings, drawing complaints from District Attorney John Wentworth who would like to see justice served.

“I don’t want to spend all of my time in front of Your Honor or other judges that Your Honor names arguing over every judgement Your Honor makes,” Wentworth said in Clackamas County Court last week as he and defense attorneys discussed getting Department of Justice records for a key witness in custody.

“That’s not appropriate,” Judge Kathie F. Steele said of DOJ’s request to get an order before they would release records. “I’m going to order you to go ahead and file your subpoena.”

Pryde’s first resignation letter to his police force was optimistic that GPD would continue to overcome its issues: “I am very proud of our many accomplishments and the culture change we’ve achieved in the department is extraordinary. It’s safe to say we’ve done some heavy lifting in the many challenges we’ve faced together over the past almost six years, but we are stronger and wiser for those experiences. Thanks to your crime fighting efforts and our partnerships with the community and helpful resources, Gladstone is still a very safe community. Our work is not done – so let’s get to it.”

Sgt. Lee Jundt will be in charge of GPD until Lt. Jeff Jolley returns from the FBI Academy at the beginning of next month. Jolley will then serve as Gladstone’s interim chief until a new chief is selected.

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