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Police chief appeals termination by city

Personnel Review Committee of city councilors to be formed Monday


by: FILE PHOTO - GreisenFollowing a decision by Scappoose’s interim City Manager Don Otterman last week to issue Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen a notice of termination, the chief submitted an appeal to the city Saturday, April 12, challenging the termination.

While Greisen’s notice of termination was issued “without cause,” Otterman’s decision to do so follows months of deliberations regarding allegations Greisen ran a hostile workplace, and the discovery of a bank bag in his office full of cash and receipts tied to an unauthorized account. The results of those investigations have not been made public, despite records requests made by the Spotlight. Otterman said the reports may be available once Greisen’s termination is made effective May 8.

Greisen, in an email to the Spotlight, said he had not seen copies of either of the two latest investigative reports into his conduct as chief, but he indicated the investigations cleared him of wrongdoing.

“In December, by phone conversation, the City Attorney told my attorney that there were 10 allegations of hostile work environment/retaliation made against me and that I prevailed on all,” Greisen wrote. “However, I need to stress I have not seen any report, so I cannot state this as fact. To my knowledge, the only people who have seen a report are the city attorneys, interim City Manager Don Otterman, and Mayor Scott Burge.”

Greisen wrote that his attorney was also informed “there was nothing criminal or civil” contained in the investigation regarding the bank bag found in a locked file drawer in his office and that the city would not be pursuing any further action.

“As always, I put my faith in the system that the truth will come to light, and my trust in the Council and the citizens to see and know what is right,” Greisen wrote.

Burge said he could not comment when asked to confirm Greisen’s statements about the investigations.

Asked why the chief’s termination was issued without cause considering the two investigations, Otterman replied, “I went by what the contract allowed. I’m not going to get into details about the action.”

Greisen’s appeal — as outlined in the city’s municipal code — will result in the formation of a Personnel Review Committee made up of three city councilors and a city attorney. The purpose of the committee and its appointed members will be to determine whether Otterman’s decision to terminate Greisen was within the bounds of existing policy and law.

The municipal code outlining the formation of a PRC states the committee must meet within 10 days after the appeal had been filed. The code continues to state that within five days of that meeting, the PRC shall determine whether the city manager’s action was, in its judgment, in compliance with existing policies and law. The PRC recommendation then goes to the city manager for review, whose decision on the matter is final.

Otterman said the PRC will be appointed at random Monday, April 28, in an open City Council meeting. Burge said councilors — including himself — will put their names into a hat to be drawn as the PRC selection process.

The Spotlight obtained a copy of Greisen’s contract with the city, dated in 2002, which states under a section titled “Termination,” that his employer can terminate the contract without cause. The contract states that such a termination entitles Greisen to 60 days severance pay.

Otterman said the severance pay includes fringe benefits such as accrued vacation and retirement, but did not have a total figure of the severance pay amount.