Patrol deputies also filed a complaint with county Chair Deborah Kafoury on Monday requesting an administrative investigation into Staton.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies union issued a vote of no confidence against Sheriff Dan Staton, the union announced Monday.
“Sheriff Staton leads ruthlessly and unpredictably through fear and favoritism, threatening to fire those in his way, yet rewarding those who get in line,” union president Deputy Matt Ferguson wrote in a statement released Monday.
“He has fostered an environment of hostility, where those who constructively criticize his actions are met with retaliation, threats, and name-calling,” Ferguson wrote.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s office was not immediately available for comment.
Staton was cleared of criminal wrongdoing Friday after the Oregon Department of Justice concluded its investigation into allegations that the sheriff created a hostile work environment, improperly investigated citizens and tried to influence a union vote.
The allegation that Staton tried to sway the union stemmed from an April 13 conversation between Ferguson and the sheriff. Ferguson told state investigators he believed the sheriff mentioned a possible promotion for him to block a no-confidence vote by the union. Staton denied the allegation, and the DOJ found no evidence of a crime.
Ferguson told The Oregonian/OregonLive last week that the DOJ findings had not changed the union’s concerns.
“Sheriff Staton has lost sight of our community’s demands for transparency and accountability,” he said in Monday’s statement. “We no longer have confidence in his ability to lead our agency.”
The union representing corrections deputies doesn’t share the patrol deputies’ stance.
Union president Sgt. Cathy Gorton said in an email Monday that corrections deputies were “moving past the recent distractions” between Staton and County Chair Deborah Kafoury.
“The situation has had no effect on our ability to get our jobs done,” she wrote.
Kafoury and District Attorney Rod Underhill asked the justice department to investigate the sheriff in February after sheriff’s Chief Deputy Linda Yankee threatened to sue based on numerous allegations including retaliation, sexism, degrading comments and unwanted touching by Staton.
The county leaders also raised allegations that Staton had made threatening statements regarding the county Charter Review Committee, which is considering making the sheriff’s job appointed rather than elected. And they wanted to know if Staton had broken any laws in collecting background information on the committee members, who are citizen volunteers.
Read the full statement from the patrol deputies union below:
Members of the Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff’s Association have overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in Sheriff Dan Staton. This action reflects our strong belief that Sheriff Staton has lost the trust of the County’s rank-and-file law enforcement deputies and sergeants. Sheriff Statonhas abandoned our core values of professionalism and integrity. He is no longer fit to lead our proud organization.
Whether a new recruit or the Sheriff of our State’s most populated county, we all swear to stay true to Oregon’s Criminal Justice Code of Ethics. Without compromise, we recognize and accept our positions as a symbol of public trust, and we commit to being above reproach. Yet Sheriff Statonhas failed to uphold these basic standards.
Sheriff Staton leads ruthlessly and unpredictably through fear and favoritism, threatening to fire those in his way, yet rewarding those who get in line. He has fostered an environment of hostility, where those who constructively criticize his actions are met with retaliation, threats, and name-calling. His reckless leadership style has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted taxpayer monies paid to remedy his recklessness; funds which instead could have been spent to protect our community.
True to form, our attempts to constructively address his failed leadership were met with threats. Sheriff Staton likens dealing with his law enforcement deputies as “worse than dealing with a bunch of criminals.” And he has suggested that cooperation from our organization would lead to our President’s promotion to a higher rank, whereas our pursuit of accountability through a no-confidence vote would be met with him “slapping us in the face.”
Sheriff Staton has lost sight of our community’s demands for transparency and accountability. We no longer have confidence in his ability to lead our agency.
By Emily E. Smith, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
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