County settles with former reserve deputy for $55,000
Columbia County won't disclose the nature of a complaint from a former sheriff's office reserve deputy that led to an out-of-court settlement of $55,000.
Columbia County commissioners approved a settlement agreement with Kellie Smith, a former reserve deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, on April 25 following an executive session meeting.
Settlement agreement documents indicate Smith, through an attorney, filed a tort claim notice with the county in February, indicating a lawsuit against the government agency could be forthcoming for "unlawful employment practices."
The nature of Smith's complaint is unclear, except to indicate that Smith was subjected to unlawful behavior while volunteering as a deputy sheriff.
A records request for a copy of the tort claim was denied by the county's attorney. Tort claim notices are considered public records, with few exceptions.
Karen Kane, the county's public information officer, said the county paid for a portion of the settlement, while the county's insurance provider paid the rest.
The settlement includes an agreement that Smith's volunteer status with CCSO will be terminated, and Smith "will not re-apply for volunteer duty in the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, or apply for employment with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office."
As of Tuesday, Smith was still listed as an active reserve deputy with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and even completed firearms qualification training on March 31, according to DPSST.
In the wake of the settlement agreement with Smith, Columbia County Sheriff's Sgt. Andy Moyer is currently on administrative leave from CCSO as an internal investigation takes place.
Moyer was placed on leave Tuesday, May 1, according to CCSO.
This marks the second in-house investigation into Moyer since last year.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson confirmed Wednesday that Smith made prior complaints that led to an internal investigation into Moyer's possible violations of CCSO policies and standards in March 2017 that eventually led to his demotion from undersheriff to jail sergeant.
It's unclear if the current investigation is also related to Smith's complaints, but Columbia County's legal counsel cited exceptions in Oregon public records law related to personnel discipline and investigations as reasons for not releasing the tort claim notices Smith filed.
Smith declined to comment on the legal complaint, citing a "gag order" stipulated in the settlement agreement.
Smith started volunteering with CCSO as a reserve in 2014, DPSST records indicate.
She also chairs the St. Helens School Board.
In exchange for a lump sum $55,000 payment, Smith agreed to indemnify the county and not file any claims or lawsuits in the future.