By Shelby R. King

The Bulletin

Police chiefs through the years

1979-1996: Chief Dave Malkin retired in 1996 after 17 years as the chief to be closer to his family in California.

1996-1999: Chief Bob Glynn retired after three years on the job.

1999-2008: Chief Andy Jordan served as the chief for nine years before retiring in the wake of a scandal involving Deputy Chief John Maniscalco, who retired after a state investigation cleared him of wrongdoing for his part in a July 4 incident on Awbrey Butte involving his girlfriend.

2008-2011: Chief Sandi Baxter came out of retirement in order to take over the department, first serving as an interim chief until January 2009 before being named the chief until she retired again in 2011.

2011-2013: Chief Jeff Sale was the first police chief hired from outside the Bend Police Department in more than 30 years. Sale, hired from Cheney, Wash., was fired this week, 10 days after the department’s Public Information Officer, Lt. Chris Carney, resigned before he could be fired for having sex, on duty and off, with several city employees.

A disconnect between Bend police command staff and department employees, lack of effective leadership, a failing strategy for implementing change and a workforce reluctant to voice concerns to management were the red flags that led Bend City Manager Eric King to fire Police Chief Jeff Sale.

“The positives were very much overshadowed by his style and approach, the lack of buy-in starting at the top and going all the way down,” King said. “I understand … when someone is trying to advance change, and I have a high tolerance for that, but that isn’t what this was about.”

King fired Sale on Tuesday following an investigation lasting just over a week. The city manager said Sale was fired for no cause. He will receive a severance pay package totaling $41,781.36, according to Bend Human Relations Director Rob DuValle.

Though the investigation was prompted, in part, by the recent misconduct and resignation of former Lt. Chris Carney — who admitted to having sex, both on- and off-duty, sometimes in uniform, in places such as police department storage rooms, a women’s bathroom, his office and a patrol car — King said Carney’s behavior didn’t directly lead to his decision.

“This wasn’t one decision; it was a series,” he said. “I started to see a lot of evidence with people’s concerns and issues where I started to get very concerned that, despite some good ideas, it was more about a problem with the ‘how’, rather than the direction or the concept.”

King said many of the approximately 20 people he interviewed cited positives Sale brought to the department, including his implementation of new technology, a more aggressive approach to recovering revenue and a more effective use of limited funds. But the permeating feeling he got was that Sale’s leadership style wasn’t working for the employees.

“People in the department need to be following their leaders, and I went in looking for signs of allies, but I just didn’t see that,” King said. “I asked people how we can fix it. And I looked for ways. But I just didn’t see signs, and so I felt a change was necessary.”

A need for change was one of the reasons King hired Sale, the former police chief in Cheney, Wash., in 2011. King cited Sale’s leadership abilities, saying, “He’s really taken the department up in Cheney and moved it forward,” according to The Bulletin archives.

“We were excited to bring someone in from outside the area,” King said Thursday. “And we still might do that when we go forward with hiring, but there is still a culture in Central Oregon, and you have to be ready to bring that along with you. You might adopt a different strategy in how you go about getting that change rather than dismissing the culture and philosophy that’s built up over the years.”

Although Sale brought good ideas to the table, King said, the disconnect with the existing culture made his employees and partners feel unheard.

“I don’t want this to be seen as a rejection of change, because that isn’t the case at all,” King said. “But without the right kind of engaging, people feel no investment and they start to feel a lack of confidence.”

King said Sale’s failure to connect with his staff created problems because of the unique structure of the police department.

“When you’re dealing with a paramilitaristic organization, there is very much a hierarchy,” King said. “During the review, when people were telling me about things they didn’t like I would ask, ‘Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?’ And they would say, ‘Well, that would be insubordination.’”

He said employees didn’t feel comfortable going to command staff to voice their concerns, leading to a mounting sense of frustration.

In any organization, Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton said, morale, both good and bad, can be contagious.

“Management is earned,” Blanton said. “That was an appointed position. Leading people and managing are two entirely different things, and leadership is an action, not a decision.”

Bend police Capt. Jim Porter, a 22-year department veteran, has been named interim chief. King has said Porter will be on the job for at least six months, possibly longer, before a formal recruiting process is launched to find a permanent police chief.

Several city councilors said they commend and support King’s evaluation and decision to fire Sale, and are confident Porter will work to change the culture within the department.

“(King’s) job is to make sure he has all the right people in department head positions, and he’s arranged it so that all those people have contracts that allow for their termination without cause,” said Bend Mayor Jim Clinton. “In order to keep everything running smoothly, he can terminate them at will with a short course of action. “

Clinton called Porter’s appointment “a necessary and correct move,” at a time when the department may be unsettled, not just from Sale’s departure, but also from Carney’s.

The mayor also cautioned people not to assume Sale did something wrong and therefore was fired.

“It was the management style within communication that appears to be the difference,” he said. “Sale’s management style was kind of out of sync with the style Eric subscribes to, but the other side of the coin is that Sale brought a considerable emphasis in modernization to the department.”

Councilor Mark Capell pointed out that King’s decision wasn’t solely based on fallout from Carney’s sex scandal. Sale and King were already discussing communication and morale problems within the department.

“The Carney issue caused Eric to look into overall what is going on in the department, and I don’t think Chief Sale was let go just because of it,” Capell said. “I think Eric made a difficult decision, and I support him 100 percent.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0376