CCSO's Brian Lister could lose his law enforcement certification for illegal possession of bobcat pelts

A Clackamas County sheriff's deputy is facing potential revocation of his law-enforcement certifications after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of possessing bobcat pelts without wildlife tags in August 2020.

COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Deputy Brian Lister poses for a Twitter photo with a cat he helped save from a tree with the Molalla Fire Department. Wildlife-violation convictions for CCSO Deputy Brian Dean Lister, 44, led the Oregon Department of Public Safety StandCOURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Deputy Brian Lister is pictured with a cat he helped the Molalla Fire Department save from a tree in December 2019.ards & Training's Police Policy Committee to meet Feb. 18 and take action in the case. After considering Lister's moral fitness in the areas of dishonesty, misuse of authority and misconduct, the 12-member committee made up of law-enforcement officers from agencies across Oregon voted to revoke Lister's certifications for three years.

On March 13, 2020, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife notified Oregon State Police that Lister brought three bobcat heads into the office but did not bring the pelts as required by law. State police subsequently investigated and found Lister had not checked in with wildlife officials to receive proper ownership tags for a total of four bobcat pelts he trapped, one during the 2018-19 season and three in 2019-20 season.

State police recovered two bobcat pelts from Lister's Molalla residence, but he refused to disclose the location of the third.

According to DPSST records, state police contacted a local taxidermist and learned that Lister had enlisted the taxidermist's aid to send two bobcat pelts to a tannery in California in the taxidermist's name and "off the books."

On May 12, 2020, Lister was cited by state police for failure to comply with special bobcat regulations and misdemeanor possession without a tag. DPSST was subsequently informed of Lister's criminal citation on July 2, 2020, which initiated a discretionary review of his certification by the Police Policy Committee.

On Nov. 19, 2020, the committee asked DPSST Professional Standards Division Director Linsay Hale to obtain the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office's internal investigation, as well as records relating to the Clackamas County District Attorney's determination on whether Lister could be called as a law-enforcement witness in future court proceedings — also known as a Brady determination.

The committee reconvened Feb. 18 to hold a discussion on whether or not to revoke Lister's certification. The nearly half-hour conversation centered around several key facts in determining whether Lister was morally fit to continue serving, particularly pieces of the investigations conducted by the Clackamas sheriff's office and district attorney.

DaNeshia Barrett of the Beaverton Police Department, noted that CCSO's professional standards unit's report on its investigation into Lister's conduct to be of concern, noting that the interview between investigators and Lister lacked specific questions to ascertain whether Lister had the intent to deceive or omit information. She also noted that Lister has a pattern of violations relating to wildlife, with a similar conviction for a wildlife-tag violation in Columbia County back in 1998.

"I'm not a hunter. I don't work in a rural agency, and I'm not ODFW, so you know, the gravity of this, under Clackamas County's understanding, is kind of, do they see this as serious? Do they not see this as serious? But based on CCSO's investigation, that leads me to believe that they're kind of OK with this behavior, which I also find concerning," Barrett said.

Brad Roberston, a Multnomah County sheriff's deputy, said he can understand how one might get confused regarding trapping and hunting regulations as the laws are constantly changing, with the ODFW sending out letters regarding the nuances of new laws every year or so. He also recognized that Lister has accepted his misdemeanor criminal conviction and has agreed to serving 12 months probation.

"Even the district attorney for Clackamas County specifically emphasized that this was extraordinarily poor judgement, but that they were not going to 'Brady list' him in any way," Robertson said. "So the elected district attorney there has faith that he can still testify. While his judgement was terrible, I do think that he still has the capacity, and I think I would be in more support of recognizing the authority of the DA there and his agency's support for him that he has there in the community."

Robertson said he would not be in support of taking action to revoke Lister's certification, to which Zach Kenny of the Portland Police Bureau agreed.

"I think that the dishonesty that's brought up is kind of reading between the lines," Kenny said. "We're not as close to this as the DA or his own agency. The impression I had reading this the first time is that Mr. Lister did not get off on the right foot or have a good interaction with the (state) trooper, and that kind of set the tone for everything that happened. That's what it seemed to me, that there was probably some attitude."

Committee Chair John Teague, Keizer's chief of police, disagreed, stating that he felt the Lister's demeanor and interactions with state police were telling in his lack of accepting responsibility for the crime he committed. Teague said he didn't believe that CCSO's internal investigation or the district attorney's went deep enough or asked specific questions to give the committee the full scope of whether Lister meant to deceive or omit facts, or if he merely just didn't know the law and made a mistake.

"What's remarkable about this case for me is Mr. Lister's mitigation that caused me to have significant pause in suspecting that he doesn't get the gravity of it," Teague said. "Frankly, I think that if the SO (supervising officer) or DA's office had been privy to that same response, they also would have had a different analysis. It causes me to think that just because the DA will continue allowing him to testify, it may be with a lack of knowledge of his actual disposition towards the law."

Chris Davis, deputy chief of Portland Police and fill-in designee for PPB Chief Chuck Lovell, said that what worried him most in regard to gross misconduct and dishonesty was the "questionable circumstance" around Lister sending the pelts out of state without documentation.

"As much as I think that sometimes Oregon's fishing and hunting regulations are incomprehensible, that made it a little bit harder for me to just chalk it up to these very complicated regulations," Davis said. "Why the need to go through this to get these pelts tanned when there's a lot of people here in Oregon who'd be happy to do that for you?"

Kathy McAlpine, Tigard chief of police, echoed Davis' comments saying she was also troubled by the lengths by which Lister went to get those pelts sent out of state.

"Following along with OSP's investigation, I could see there was definitely a clear attempt to deceive, so it goes back to his actions and character in this matter," McAlpine said.

Liz Lawrence, a sergeant with the Bend Police Department, noted that Lister's history of wildlife violations stuck out in her mind.

Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie agreed with Lawrence that a previous warning issued on the same exact topic would deter most regular people from repeating the same behavior.

"You would think that as a law-enforcement officer, if you already got a warning you would educate yourself, if you were going to keep doing that as a hobby," Davie said. "I do have the same type of issues regarding (Lister's) moral fitness."

Robertson said that while he understands there are clear violations of law and questionability of Lister's potential truthfulness, he also felt that Lister has taken his punishment and gone through a series of life-changing events that will put him on the right track for the future.

"It does speak volumes to me that his command (CCSO) is still here in support of him, and the district attorney is still allowing him to be a witness," Robertson said.

Robertson made a motion for the board to take no action on Lister's case which was seconded, but failed by a vote of 8-4.

McAlpine said that while she has problems with the acts Lister committed, it didn't reach the tipping point for pulling his certification, but she admitted she was right on the fence of voting in favor.

Davis said he was on just the other side of the fence, where he didn't want to pull Lister's certification, but he felt that his lack of a good-faith effort to comply with the law and all the questionable circumstances surrounding the subterfuge to get those pelts out of state rose to the level of him voting in favor.

Barrett went back to the prior history of misdemeanor wildlife violations and warnings as the basis for her being in favor of pulling Lister's certification.

"He's a 17-year cop, he's supposed to be upholding the law. He's shown... that he's not willing to uphold his own story," she said.

The committee eventually entertained a motion to take action and voted 10-2 to pull Lister's certification with an ineligibility period of three years from his conviction date.

Lister is still employed by CCSO but on administrative leave pending DPSST's final determination.

"Since the matter is still pending, we will not comment further until the matter is fully resolved," said Sgt. Marcus Mendoza, CCSO's public information officer.

According to Anil Karia — the attorney who represents Lister and the deputies union, the Clackamas County Peace Officers' Association — Lister plans to appeal the Police Policy Committee's decision to the full DPSST board in April at which time a final decision will be made.

Karia said that Lister has faithfully served Oregon communities as a law-enforcement officer for 22 years, and that he's fully owned up to this off-duty mistake. He also noted that Lister is working with criminal courts to fulfill his ongoing bench-probation obligations.

"We look forward to fully participating in the ongoing DPSST review process to ensure that (Lister) may continue to serve our communities," Karia wrote.

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