In Tigard, Ore., a reserve officer concerned that poor vision would prevent him from becoming a certified police officer had his brother take the eye exam for him. In Lebanon, Ore., an off-duty police officer painted his face black and hid in a ditch during a five-hour armed standoff with fellow officers surrounding his home after he showed up at his wife’s job with a gun. The Oregonian in Portland says that both officers had their public safety certifications yanked or denied. In four years, the state agency that sets standards for public safety officers has revoked or denied certification for 113 police, parole and corrections officers, and emergency medical and 911 dispatchers, because of misconduct ranging from untruthfulness or having sex on the job to falsifying records and drug use.
Last year, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training revoked or denied 53 certifications. That’s more than twice as many as 2002, when 24 were denied or revoked. The increase is due to the agency’s hiring a full-time employee to to review certifications.
The agency doesn’t conduct its own investigations of alleged misconduct, but it often learns of cases from agencies that report them, criminal convictions, newspaper reports, or tips from community members. Oregon is among 14 states that enter the decertifications into an emerging National Decertification Database. The database helps certification agencies red-flag their counterparts about “gypsy” cops or parole officers who try to run from their past and seek a job elsewhere. A federal grant is pending to expand the database to all 50 states.
“We have officers who have done some pretty bad things, and they say, ‘I’ll just move on,’ and they do,” said Raymond A. Franklin, director of the database. He also serves as assistant director of the Maryland Police Training Commission.