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Embattled former Gladstone Police Chief Jim Pryde this week was successfully driven out of town before his retirement date, but at a cost of $58,262.59 to taxpayers.


GPD - PrydeAfter more than 35 years wearing a badge, Pryde essentially agreed to retire early and get exactly the compensation he would have received if he continued to work for the city through his original July 1 retirement date. In a severance agreement signed on Feb. 27, Pryde had to return all city property “including and not limited to car, gun, badge, equipment, keys, thumb drives containing city file, manuals and documents on March 1.”

In return from the city, according to documents obtained by the Clackamas Review, Pryde received severance on March 2 equal to four months of pay and benefits less tax withholdings ($34,849.40), the amount Gladstone would have contributed to PERS for four months ($5,886.04) and the value of his accrued vacation time ($17,527.15).

Pryde, who made $104,000 in salary last year, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the severance package was too good to refuse. At the time he spoke with the media, the terms of the settlement were undisclosed, and he did not respond to further questions by this newspaper.

Although the city and Pryde agreed to keep the terms of their agreement confidential as much as possible, state public-records law compelled the release of Pryde’s severance agreement to the Clackamas Review. This newspaper argued for the great public interest in Pryde retiring suddenly, only a month after he had announced that he wouldn’t retire until July 1.

In recent years, Gladstone city councilors have expressed various concerns about Pryde, including his outside consulting work continuing while receiving pay from the city, and his 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.

The severance agreement revealed why city councilors have now declined to criticize Pryde, even if they were critical prior to Pryde’s sudden departure. The severance agreement mandates that City Council, Pryde and City Administrator Pete Boyce all “not engage in any criticism” or “speak in negative or disparaging terms” of one another.

No evidence of wrongdoing

The severance agreement, according to the terms of the document signed by Pryde and Boyce, prevents both the city and Pryde from suing each other and “should not be construed as evidence of wrongdoing by either party.” The official reasons given for the separation were “to make a clean break and fully resolve and settle all disputes between them.” Their “mutual desire to part ways” led to an agreement that “separation sooner is in everyone’s best interest.”

According to Boyce’s last supervisory performance evaluation of Pryde, completed April 14, 2014, and covering 2013, Pryde was either a “role model” or “fully proficient” in all possible skills as a police chief.

Pryde is “professional and always has best interests of the city in mind,” Boyce wrote. “Jim has faced some challenging situations this last year and has always taken responsibility for all aspects of the department.”

Boyce’s note to “continue outreach to union” references one of the “challenging situations” Pryde faced in 2013. An agreement with the Gladstone Police Association for July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016, increases salaries for officers by 0.5 percent each year.

Pryde’s proudest accomplishment with the GPD was obtaining state accreditation in September, signaling its place among the top 20 percent of Oregon police departments that have passed more than 100 standards for professionalism.

“Jim performs his duties at a high level and is a great asset to the city of Gladstone,” Boyce concluded in his final evaluation.

Pryde told The Oregonian that he plans to continue to teach, consult and write about police leadership during his retirement.

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