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No charges in Warrenton Police probe

Two officers have left the force
By Derrick DePledge

The Daily Astorian

Published on September 11, 2017 10:14AM

Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said he was surprised last year after learning two of his officers were under investigation.

Alex Pajunas/The Daily Astorian

Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said he was surprised last year after learning two of his officers were under investigation.

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Jim Pierce was promoted to sergeant at the Warrenton Police Department in February.

Erick Bengel/The Daily Astorian

Jim Pierce was promoted to sergeant at the Warrenton Police Department in February.

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WARRENTON — Two former Warrenton Police officers who left the force while they were under investigation will not face charges.

The Clatsop County District Attorney’s Office asked the state Department of Justice to investigate the police officers last year over behavioral and workplace issues.

District Attorney Josh Marquis said no charges will be filed at this time.

“My office has expressed concerns over the last couple years about some of the staffing levels and a couple individual officers at Warrenton Police Department,” he said in an email. “The district attorney is not the boss of the police and we have no direct authority over them.

“That said our office has always enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the seven county police agencies.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown met with City Manager Linda Engbretson, Marquis said, and “expressed some of our long-standing concerns.”

Warrenton has made “needed changes,” the district attorney said, citing the departure of two police officers and the promotion of retired Oregon State Police trooper Jim Pierce to sergeant.

The Daily Astorian reported last October that two Warrenton Police officers were under investigation. Police Chief Mathew Workman said at the time that the officers — who have not been publicly identified by the city or prosecutors — were on administrative leave.

Warrenton swore in new police officers in February and April. Pierce was promoted to sergeant in February, a move widely praised because of his experience. He had been a Warrenton Police sergeant in the 1980s before his long career with the state police.

Engbretson said she could not speak about specific personnel actions at the police department. She said in an email that the investigation shows that “the system works. We investigate concerns thoroughly and take necessary steps and appropriate action where necessary.”

The city manager also said she has “full confidence in Chief Workman. He is a good man. He has the highest of ethics. He works extremely hard — goes above and beyond really. He is totally committed to this community and that shows in all he does for the community.

“I believe in all our officers; they work hard for Warrenton, and I think you will find the majority of the community has high confidence in our department and that is demonstrated in the many ways folks support our officers.”

Mayor Henry Balensifer said he could not comment on personnel matters within the police department, but stressed that the city took the district attorney’s concerns seriously. The mayor and the City Commission oversee Engbretson, while the city manager supervises the police chief.

“The city takes our relationship with the DA’s office seriously, just as we did with his suggestions,” Balensifer said in an email. “Appropriate actions have been taken, as evidenced in the DA’s statement. We look forward to a continued, positive working relationship with the DA’s office.

“Force levels are an issue across the county. That said, Warrenton has come a long way. It was not long ago we didn’t have 24-hour police coverage. We currently do. The commission has added officers over the past few years, and recently we added a sergeant and drug dog. We have one officer just getting out of the academy and another soon to be going.

“You ask if citizens should have confidence in our police department — they should.”



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