1/12/23 News Update


<<A recent candidate for Clark County sheriff, currently employed as a Vancouver officer, has been suspended from police work and is subject to four separate internal investigations that have been launched since September.

Cpl. Rey Reynolds has had his “police officer powers” suspended and is on administrative leave, according to a recent email circulating among employees of the Vancouver Police Department and obtained by OPB.

Reynolds, who has been a patrolman in the agency’s western precinct, has had his access to police facilities restricted. The city continues to pay him while the investigations are ongoing.

The email doesn’t explicitly say why Reynolds is suspended. Vancouver Police Department officials have not said what prompted most of the investigations.

However, at least one investigation is tied to a podcast appearance Reynolds made while campaigning to be Clark County’s top law enforcement official. On the Sept. 24 podcast, Reynolds compared drag events to criminal sexual offenses.

Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Kim Kapp said the four investigations into Reynolds began on Sept. 8, Oct. 24, and two on Dec. 20. The two December investigations stem from separate incidents, she said. None of the investigations are closed.

<<Vancouver police confirmed to OPB in October that Rey’s comments on a podcast led to an open investigation. His comments drew outrage, including a petition for his firing that has notched more than 1,400 signatures.>>

Reynolds was suspended Dec. 21, according to the email.>>

<<During the podcast, a host asked Reynolds what laws exist in the state to “regulate the current trans push” and how he would use the laws if elected sheriff. The host referenced drag queen story hours, which are events featuring drag queens reading stories to children.

“We do have those laws – exposure laws, indecent liberties, all of those things are laws that we have on the books right now that can be prosecuted. And we can arrest on those things,” Reynolds responded. “We need to get back to where we used to arrest people for running around naked and doing sexual acts. Now, we have parades where they’re allowed to do it. And they’re not being arrested. They’re only being encouraged.”>>



<<Former Medford resident John Malaer was denied access to a bus ride home to the Oregon Coast after attending depositions of Medford police officers and the city manager on Saturday.

Malaer is suing the police department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s office for false arrest and abuse inside the Jackson County Jail in 2019. First reported by The Oregonian, video from the jail shows Malaer being slapped by a sheriff’s deputy. Because of his disability, he was left in a cell for hours without access to the sink or a catheter that he needed to relieve himself.

Malaer is an advocate for homeless people with disabilities and has served on the Jackson County Continuum of Care Board among other community boards.

On January 3rd, Malaer was involved in an incident on his ride into Medford with a bus driver for POINT, a bus service managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation that connects Klamath Falls to Brookings.

Malaer, who uses a wheelchair, reportedly unhooked his wheelchair from the restraints before the bus came to a complete stop.

In a video recorded by Malaer’s attorney, Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, the bus driver said she was verbally abused and sworn at after confronting  Malaer for the safety violation.

Then, on January 7th, the driver denied Malaer access to the bus for his return trip home. A Rogue Valley Transportation District security officer, also seen in the video, said LeDuc Montgomery was not allowed to film at the transit center, saying it’s private property, and that both needed to leave.

“That was their understanding, that RVTD [transit center] is private property that allows public access,” LeDuc Montgomery said. “But I do not believe that is the standard when it comes to government-owned property providing government core services such as public transportation by bus.”

According to Oregon Statute, a “public place” refers to a place the general public has access to, which specifically includes “premises used in connection with public passenger transportation.”

LeDuc Montgomery said because there’s no expectation of privacy, the right to film in a public place – especially the filming of security and police officers – is not grounds to cite someone for trespassing.

A police officer who arrived at the request of RVTD security also claimed that both Malaer and his attorney were trespassing, Malaer for a previous violation banning him from the transit center, and LeDuc Montgomery for filming without permission.

“It was concerning to me to also experience firsthand how quickly the police were to resort to ‘you’re excluded from this public service, you’re excluded from this public place,’” LeDuc Montgomery said. “There was zero harm, zero violence, zero violation going on.”

Later on, the officer claimed that “thousands but [at least] hundreds of people” have been trespassed from the public transit center. The Medford Police Department hasn’t yet confirmed that claim.

LeDuc Montgomery said it’s concerning that so many people might be barred from accessing an area known to be the primary hub for transportation in the region. On top of the RVTD bus service, Greyhound and other inter-city services use the transit center as a stop.

After a sergeant arrived on the scene, the situation became more clear.

The RVTD security officer said that Malaer was not trespassing and that the previous restriction banning him had expired in 2022.

Neither Malaer nor his attorney was cited. They were left to find alternative transportation. LeDuc Montgomery said because of an inability to access the POINT bus, Malaer’s trip home was extended for days.>>



<<The new sheriff said she’s committed to quelling the violence, and critical to that work will be building and maintaining relationships with the Portland Police Bureau and the Gresham Police Department, plus state and federal partners.

“We have to work together to intervene,” Morrisey O’Donnell said. “We’re also working with community groups and organizations because we recognize we need those types of resources to break down those barriers and really talk with community, heal community, and help us develop those community-led solutions to reducing gun violence.”

Another top-of-mind issue for Morrisey O’Donnell is the Portland region’s homeless crisis, which often involves mental illness and addiction. She said she believes the sheriff’s office can be instrumental in getting people off the streets and into homes or recovery.

“Supplementing our public safety services with experts in the field around mental health and addiction is critical,” she said.

The Portland Police Bureau has only recently begun to turn the corner on a long period of staff shortages, but staffing levels at the sheriff’s office are in comparatively good shape, according to Morrisey O’Donnell, down by only two deputies in the law enforcement division.

Even so, she said she wants to prioritize keeping up on staffing needs, including by hosting more recruiting events where staffers can engage directly with people interested in jobs in law enforcement. She said she also wants those job candidates to come from outside the immediate area, and is thinking about ways to recruit nationwide. >>



<<The staff of Scappoose Fire District have been taking their jobs as firefighters to new heights. The fire district recently received a new drone, an unmanned aircraft, from Homeland Security to add to their collection. >>

<<The program does more than just allow them to fly drones over fires.

The technology they now possess allows them to dig deeper when it comes to fire investigations — it’s called photogrammetry.

“Photogrammetry is the science and mathematics of taking lots of data, taking altitude as well as a specific place,” Pricher said. >>



<<At this week’s Tigard City Council meeting, Chief Kathy McAlpine shared the city’s 2022 crime statistics, noting several trends she wanted residents to be aware of.

Last year, the city saw increases in violent crimes, crimes against persons, and crimes against property. According to Tigard PD, all three categories were higher than what the agency saw in 2018, which they say is their pre-pandemic point of reference.

“You can see we trended up quite a bit,” said McAlpine. “That is concerning. We had three homicides this year, we had three. Last year we had four. That’s a troubling trend. That’s seven, where the previous four years, all total those four years, you had two.”

McAlpine also spoke on robberies being up 89%.

“When a shoplift goes bad and loss prevention or law enforcement takes someone into custody and they get combative or fight back that changes from a theft to a robbery,” said McAlpine. “That is a national trend that we are seeing. Some are locals and others are organizers of retail rings.”

When it comes to property crimes, McAlpine says burglaries at storage facilities and stolen vehicles are up.

“When it comes to crimes against persons: stolen property, arson, embezzlement, forgery, stolen vehicles, commercial and residential burglaries, vandalism, fraud, and theft,” said McAlpine. “Where we are seeing the uptick, in particular, is our stolen vehicles. We saw a lot of them recovered in Portland and vice versa. That is up 69% than before. Burglaries were up 48% but it was over 100% for those storage facilities. A lot of it is we saw a trend of management from the storage facilities during the pandemic where they allowed remote access and things of that nature.”

When asked by council members what can be done, Chief McAlpine says solving one of the issues will require more resources, specifically better and more readily available mental health services.>>



<<City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez was on the job for less than a week when Mayor Ted Wheeler handed him a gift basket of city bureaus in crisis: the fire department and the bureau that handles 911 calls.

It’s an apt reward for a politician who campaigned on a platform of cracking down on crime and unhoused camping. The mayor didn’t give him the Police Bureau—few mayors relinquish control of the cop shop—but Wheeler placed Gonzalez in charge of the city’s emergency dispatch desk and many of its first responders. Firefighters are also reeling from a rise in fires that begin in and around homeless camps: As WW reported last year, camp fires now constitute half the fires in Portland (“Camp Fires Everywhere,” Nov. 2, 2022).

What’s more, Portland Fire & Rescue contains a 2-year-old program called Portland Street Response that sends unarmed crisis teams to people in mental distress. That means Gonzalez partly controls the direction of an innovative program crafted and championed by former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the incumbent he just vanquished. The police union, which endorsed Gonzalez, has been reluctant to cede work to PSR. During the campaign, Gonzalez expressed trepidation about expanding the program without more in-depth data about its effectiveness.>>

<<Rene Gonzalez: Certainly staffing versus volume they face is a gigantic piece. I think that the forced overtime, which was a response to the realities they’re facing—too many fires and not enough staff—is really beating down that workforce. I think at times there’s almost a sadness and depression about our inability to address unsanctioned camps.

When you’re putting out a fire [at a structure] built to code, the risk factors are understandable. In unsanctioned camps, you don’t know what you’re walking into. It’s deeply unpredictable, and I don’t think most fire professionals enjoy putting out a cooking or heating fire as human beings. There’s nothing fun about that.>>

<<I think part of it is sanctioned versus unsanctioned camps. As a city, we have to move toward sanctioned camping, and that means a place with basic rules and fire safety. The fire bureau gave me this number: Since mid-2019, the fire bureau has been tracking fire calls among the houseless. Of those, only six were in sanctioned camps versus 2,554 in unsanctioned camps.>>