Warrenton Police are under state scrutiny

Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said two of his officers are under state investigation.

WARRENTON — The state Department of Justice is investigating the conduct of officers at the Warrenton Police Department.

The details have not been publicly disclosed, but Police Chief Mathew Workman said two officers are under investigation.

Other sources said privately that the probe could also show whether behavioral issues of individual officers are linked to inadequate supervision.

State investigators will turn over the findings to the Clatsop County District Attorney’s Office.

“The investigator, when he contacted me, said that he was looking into a few issues that could potentially be looked at as criminal issues, which was very surprising to me, obviously,” Workman said.

The police chief said three officers are on administrative leave, including one, he said, from a personnel issue that happened prior to any investigation.

Warrenton Police have 11 sworn officers and three reserve officers, so having three officers on leave can put a strain on the small department.

Workman said the Police Department and the city are cooperating fully with the investigation. “And, again, I’m hoping that it doesn’t come to fruition that there was anything done wrong, but if it does, then people need to be held accountable,” he said.

“I’m as concerned as anybody else. I mean, it’s my department and we want to make sure that we’re not doing anything inappropriate.”

Linda Engbretson, the interim city manager, who oversees Workman, declined to comment, describing it as a personnel matter. Mayor Mark Kujala and city commissioners also chose not to discuss the investigation.

“We take personnel issues seriously,” Engbretson said.

The state Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment. District Attorney Josh Marquis also declined comment.

Workman was the police chief in Vernonia for four years before taking the helm in Warrenton in October 2008. City officials have described him as well-liked and affable, but some have also noted privately that he appears to carry a heavy workload.

Earlier this year, when discussing the department’s assignment of its first full-time detective, Workman said he and his officers have to cover a little bit of everything.

“We all wear those hats here,” he said.

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