West Linn paying $28,500 a month for chief, detective on leave
The city of West Linn is paying a total of $28,500 a month for the salary and benefits of Police Chief Terry Kruger and Detective Tony Reeves, who are both on leave pending investigations of the Michael Fesser case.
Reeves, the lead detective who investigated and arrested Fesser, a black man from Portland, has been on leave since details of WLPD's handling of the case became a national scandal in February.
Reeves, and other officers no longer with WLPD, unlawfully investigated and detained Fesser in 2017 as a favor to Fesser's boss, who was also a friend of then-WLPD Chief Terry Timeus. Fesser had complained to his boss at A&B Towing, Eric Benson, about racial discrimination he faced at work and Benson feared he would file a lawsuit against A&B Towing.
The United States Department of Justice, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and both the Clackamas and Multnomah County district attorneys have all announced investigations into the city's handling of the case.
In February, Fesser was awarded $600,000 in a racial discrimination lawsuit against WLPD.
Kruger, who was not with WLPD at the time of the Fesser arrest, came under fire for defending Reeves and allegedly calling him a 'victim' for the attention he was getting in the press.
The city of West Linn placed Kruger on paid administrative leave April 8, pending the results of an independent investigation into the matter.
It was revealed in March that Kruger also had a personal relationship with Benson, something he failed to disclose with city councilors while discussing the case.
City councilors have also said key and damning details of the case — like racist text messages between Benson and Reeves — should have been divulged to them by Kruger and others who knew about them during closed executive sessions where they updated on the case.
"It looks like as early as July 2018, people in our city that were in a supervisory role were aware of those offensive texts," Council President Teri Cummings said at a council meeting in March. "To me that should have been a huge red flag. I don't know why that didn't trigger a whole series of changes right then and there."
In an email to the City Council, last month, a West Linn citizen expressed concern about how much the city might be paying for the leave of Reeves and Kruger.
In response, Interim City Manager John Williams wrote that the city was paying $28,500 a month to cover salary and benefits of both individuals.
"Unfortunately I don't have control over how long either (leave) will last. Officer Reeves' leave is for the duration of the DOJ/DA investigations, and as you know we have been given no timeframes by those agencies," Williams' email continues. "Chief Kruger is on leave pending the OIR investigation; the City Council negotiated the scope of work with OIR Group but did not require a timeframe for completion that I am aware of."
On April 20, the council directed city staff to enter a contract, spending up to $50,000, for an investigation by the OIR group, which has previously reviewed the Portland Police Bureau and Clackamas County Sherrif's Office.
West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this matter.
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