Police car lights. Security sheriff cars headlights and flashers, emergency siren light and secure transport vector illustration

Good cops make mistakes. Bad cops need to be disciplined, fired and even prosecuted.

The public needs to trust that the oversight system in place works. We don’t have any evidence there is a problem at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, but Sheriff Shane Nelson told us he wants to be more open about his office’s disciplinary records. That’s an outcome that the community deserves.

Nelson told us he is planning to release information that will give the public a better idea of the number of investigations in his office for possible policy violations and the outcome of those investigations. One thing we could expect to see, Nelson said, is that when an investigation warrants an internal affairs investigation, there will be a greater frequency of disciplinary actions taken.

At least according to our discussion, Nelson was planning on releasing numbers. Not details of specific incidents. Not details that would identify the employee involved or any members of the public. So while releasing the numbers will be a notable change, it won’t be enough information to more completely reassure the public that bad apples are being dealt with appropriately.

(3) comments

Funding Secured

Election year theater. Citizen review board with oversight on discipline would be real. Otherwise assume any bad apples are failing upwards relative to their political allegiance to Nelson. Not that Nelson is necessarily crooked beyond the mean, but because Nelson's is a political office.

CardiacSpike

The same can certainly be said of each law enforcement agency in Central Oregon. There has not been one, not one, that over the decades has seen city councils ensure their "favorite" is selected for hire in order to sustain the status quo.

As a result there has been bad apples and bad officers uprooted time and time again, Sunriver PD and Redmond (retired officer) the latest. At least with the Sheriff's Office it is an election process. Not a "good old boy" city council back-room smoker.

CardiacSpike

It should be noted Sheriff Nelson instituted new levels of Transparency in these matters beginning in 2016.

Much to the quiet unhappiness of other Central Oregon law enforcement agencies (COLEA) such as Bend PD. The traditional and ongoing approach to internal disciplinary issues and actions at other COLEA is to offer anyone inquiring “We don’t discuss those matters” and that is the end of the conversation.

Nelson has broke ranks with that “Wall of Silence” and this has been reported on more than once.

Any news agency understandably “wants it all” when they make an information request. However, employees are protected, both public and private sector, by several federal and state laws as well as organizational policies and procedures. A good reporter will develop the relationships, networks, and trust that allows she or he to obtain the information, whole or in part, for their story and the Public’s interests.

A lazy reporter will simply demand information using the public records release process and speak to whomever might speak to her or him.

Nelson has taken and continues to lead in this sensitive and very litigious area of Transparency. He should be encouraged to continue to do so as an example for Chief Kranz and those other senior law enforcement administrators in Central Oregon

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