Police union challenges firing of Ore. police recruiter who gave applicant interview questions
The 24-year veteran officer also gave the applicant score sheets and offered to pay for a hotel room
By Maxine Bernstein
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland police recruiter who gave an applicant the questions and score sheets that would be used for an entry-level job interview and offered to pay for a hotel room to help her prepare for the police exam was fired this year for his "significant misuse of authority.''
The Police Bureau this month posted a summary of the case along with other discipline cases examined by its Police Review Board, but didn't name the officer.
However, The Oregonian/OregonLive has confirmed that the recruiter fired was Officer Timmy Evans, a nearly 24-year veteran of the bureau who served as a bureau recruiter for at least five years. He was fired on May 10.
"I did give her the information,'' Evans said in an interview Sunday. "I was truthful about that.''
Evans also provided the applicant with confidential information on why she had failed a prior background inquiry done in 2010 and 2011, according to the bureau's summary of the case.
A citizen complaint prompted the bureau to conduct an internal affairs investigation. Members of a Police Review Board, which examined the bureau's investigation, noted that the officer gave the applicant an "unfair advantage'' in the testing process that potentially compromised the test for all candidates.
Board members acknowledged that Evans had a "passion for helping women and underrepresented people'' get hired by the police force, but his actions represented a "significant misuse of authority, unethical behavior, a "willful disregard of police bureau values'' and a "serious lack of integrity, ethics and character.''
Evans said he believed the bureau's testing process was unfairly eliminating people of color and women. "I chose to do what I could to get those people in the door,'' he told The Oregonian/OregonLive. However, he said he didn't assist other applicants.
The review board also considered whether Evans was seeking sexual favors by offering to share a hotel room, in exchange for helping the applicant in the testing process. The board did not sustain that allegation, but did find evidence Evans had offered to share a hotel room with the applicant in Los Angeles.
Evans told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he offered to have the woman share his hotel room in Los Angeles so she could take the exam there and be considered earlier for a vacancy, instead of waiting until the exam was offered again in Portland later in the year. He said he didn't think the woman could afford paying for a room. The woman didn't accept his offer, but did take the exam in Los Angeles. She passed the exams, but was disqualified during the background inquiry.
The board recommended the Police Bureau examine why it allowed Evans to serve in a recruiting position for the police force given his prior disciplinary history, which it did not describe. Evans said he received command counseling or a letter of reprimand for accepting food, a burrito, from a previous applicant, who tested well on her exam.
Evans' termination was one of several cases summarized in a report made public this month on the police bureau's website that were reviewed between Oct. 13, 2016 , and Jan. 10, 2018.
Evans said the police union has filed a grievance, challenging his firing. Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, declined comment on Evans' case, noting it's an ongoing matter. The challenge may allege that other officers who've taken similar actions were not terminated.
Among the other cases were:
- The firing of Officer Dan Chastain, who was off-duty when he was arrested in Clackamas County after crashing a city-owned car on April 25, 2016. The car overturned, coming to rest on its top. Chastain's blood-alcohol content was .256 percent, according to the bureau's summary. The legal limit is .08 percent. An open beer can was found near the scene. Chastain was off-duty at the time but on call. Chastain, convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants and sentenced to 32 days in jail, was fired Aug. 1, 2017, according to state records.
- The firing of Sgt. Gregg Lewis, who was reported by other officers to have made an inflammatory remark during Central Precinct's roll call regarding the use of force against a black man. The remark came just three days after the Feb. 9, 2017 fatal police shooting of a black teenager, 17-year-old Quanice Hayes. The review board found Lewis' remarks brought discredit to the bureau. One board member called Lewis' comments an "egregious, abhorrent act' that has no place in the police bureau. Lewis, who retired from the bureau Oct. 31, 2016, was rehired in December 2016. He was fired Feb. 2 of this year.
- Command counseling given to Lt. Mike Leasure, who signed then-Chief Mike Marshman in on a log as having attended a training though the chief never showed. The so-called ''command counseling'' is on the low-end of bureau discipline. The board noted that Leasure was unable to explain why he signed the chief in on the attendance log and gave "ambiguous'' answers to investigators' questions. Board members did not find Leasure was untruthful, but were critical of his "bad decision-making and poor leadership skills'' as a supervisor.
- One unnamed officer resigned after the bureau determined he had done an unlawful search of a vehicle, described in the report as a "dirty search.'' A citizen who was on a ride-along reported the search, and the officer never documented it in a police report.
- Another unnamed officer received a one-week suspension without pay for responding on a missing person case that involved an extended family member. The officer, who was off duty, went to a strip club in his partial police uniform to help search for the missing person, an employee of the club, but never told a supervisor of his response, the board report said.