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City has pivoted to runner-up after first choice withdrew acceptance, in process of hiring

COURTESY - Phillip Kearney, Steven Lougal and Janie Schutz were the three finalists for Scappoose police chief earlier this year.Scappoose will have a new police chief this spring — just not the one it expected.

Scappoose City Manager Alexandra Rains announced the hiring of Phillip Kearney, an agent with the Oregon Department of Justice, on Jan. 24.

Just over a month later, on Feb. 25, Kearney "unexpectedly had to withdraw his acceptance of the city's offer to the be the next chief of police due to personal reasons," Rains said.

The city has since offered the job to another candidate who was one of three finalists for the position.

"Steven Lougal, who did very well in the recruitment process and scored second, just below Kearney, has accepted the city's offer to become the next chief of police, pending successful completion of the hiring process," Rains said.

Lougal is a captain in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, police department, serving a city of close to 150,000 people.

Lougal was one of four high-ranking officers involved in a lawsuit against Bridgeport claiming that a colleague's promotion to chief violated hiring rules and the city charter.

Kearney was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit opposing Gov. Kate Brown's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for Oregon state, healthcare and school employees. The lawsuit failed to halt the mandate.

On Feb. 24, Brown announced she would lift the state's emergency declaration, on which the vaccination requirement was based. Brown's office did not say how ending the emergency declaration would impact the vaccination requirement until the following week, after reporters pressed for answers.

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