Deschutes County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Leak has been on paid leave for 18 months, paid $182,000 not to work, and he hasn’t even been interviewed in connection with alleged policy violations that caused his suspension.
But that’s not an outrage, according to Capt. Paul Garrison, because of things he says he can’t tell us.
Garrison told Bulletin reporter Aubrey Wieber the type of investigation involved in Leak’s case is necessary because it’s part of establishing how the sheriff’s office operates under the leadership of Sheriff Shane Nelson. The delay, he said, is partly due to a lack of resources.
Indeed, Nelson’s early tenure has been marked by numerous investigations of employees, leading to six firings among nearly two dozen departures. The evidence is strong that Nelson needed to clean house and display a different kind of leadership.
The Leak case, however, has too many troubling aspects to allow the public to accept a trust-us-we-know-what-we’re-doing explanation:
• Retired Portland police officer John Bocciolatt was hired in 2015 to investigate Leak and former Capt. Scott Beard. Beard was tried and sentenced to five years in prison for stealing money from the department, but Bocciolatt resigned before interviewing Leak, who was put on leave May 17, 2016, in connection with noncriminal allegations.
• Bocciolatt’s replacement, Tim Moore, is retired from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office didn’t know before hiring him that a 2009 probe determined he had falsified a training manual. The Bulletin found the information with a simple Google search.
• Moore has reviewed Bocciolatt’s report on Beard and Leak but has not interviewed Leak because he is working on other things, according to Garrison.
Nelson has done a good job of taking charge and establishing a new era in the sheriff’s office, but the Leak case threatens to undercut this positive start.
Eighteen months and $182,000 ought to make for a high priority.