GEARHART — Police Chief Jeff Bowman said City Councilor Kerry Smith was “grossly wrong” when Smith came to his office in July to ask about a dog bite investigation.
In a letter to Mayor Matt Brown, Bowman said Smith, who is friends with the people involved in the case, demanded to see the police report.
Bowman said Smith told him he was not asking as a city councilor.
“He wanted to know what was going on in my investigation,” the police chief said in an interview. “I just believe the mannerism in which he came in here, he was acting as a councilmember, not as a citizen of the general public.”
Smith was not immediately available to comment. Brown declined to comment.
The dog bite took place in July on the beach near 10th Street.
According to police, a woman was walking on the beach with her child in a stroller and her dog off leash when they encountered another woman with her two young sons. The dog was introduced to them as being friendly before biting one of the boys, puncturing his face.
Bowman said the case was closed this week and the dog’s owners released the dog to be impounded. The police chief said this is the second time the dog has bit someone.
In his letter to Brown, Bowman wrote that “law enforcement investigations conducted by my department will not be influenced by political members of our City Council. We base our cases on facts and what can be proven in a court of law.”
Bowman wrote that he was not alleging official misconduct, but described Smith as “just grossly wrong in his approach.”
Bowman said he hopes his letter sends a message to city councilors.
“When the investigation is done, if they want to bring it up at council meetings or whatever they want to do, then that’s fine,” he said. “I thought it was inappropriate and I wanted the mayor to know and I wanted everybody else to know ... this isn’t the city of Portland where the mayor is in charge of the police department and he gets to interfere.”
Bowman believes there needs to be a clear separation of duties.
“Police departments should not be politically run, as we can see on the news how bad that turns out,” he said.