The Lake Oswego Review
US and World News provided by Reuters

Printer-friendly version     Email story link

Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Is West Linn investigation 'designed to prevent public disclosure?'

<< Prev. Page 1 | 2

“Mr. Losness, after he left employment here, tried to get his job back here and Mr. Losness also applied to be a police officer in the city of West Linn under Terry Timeus, who is a chief, and my question to Mr. Losness would be, ‘Why would you expose yourself to a network of immoral and unethical supervisors to do so, if that were the case?’” said Duncan.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said.

Duncan instead attributes motivation for the complaint to bad blood between Losness and the Lake Oswego Police Department, in part for the dismissal of several police officers after he took the helm of the department in 2003.

“When I was first hired, everybody was held to the same standard and some folks didn’t want to be held to that standard and they are no longer employed,” said Duncan.

Early on in his tenure, Duncan said that it “seemed like it was every other day” that he was dealing with serious allegations of officer misconduct and supervising internal investigations.

His efforts to clean up the police department involved a reorganization aimed at streamlining policies, communication and consistent standards for behavior.

The push led to the accreditation last year of the police department by the Oregon Accreditation Alliance, an organization run by the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. Lake Oswego became the 21st police department in Oregon to earn the distinction, meeting 107 qualifying standards and passing a two-day assessment that included interviews, a tour and close inspection of department records.

But it also led to firings, resignations and early retirements.

Though Duncan would not speak directly about internal investigations in the department since he took the helm, interviews with former officers indicate that Timeus was tapped to lead more than one internal investigation aimed at cleaning up problems.

Timeus, who rose laterally through the department with Duncan, was a trusted colleague and one of two captains serving under Duncan. Hired six months apart, the two men were detectives at the same time and have been friends since. They still hunt and fish together, Duncan said, and he formally recommended Timeus for the chief’s position in West Linn.

Interviews with former law enforcement officials, including Losness, indicate that Timeus led at least one investigation probing bad behavior by Losness and at least three officers quoted or named as witnesses in the complaint made to the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

“Unfortunately I wish I could sit here and we could discuss the whole thing,” said Duncan, but labor laws prevent commenting about any problems with prior employees.

Duncan denied there was any reason for concern about the allegations made by Losness, including Brown’s findings regarding the possible sex show.

Duncan said a similar incident occurred – police reports indicate that two women performed for officers while trying to avoid an arrest — but that officers handled the situation appropriately.

Asked whether he thought a former city manager’s decision to retain Wrisley after his arrest in 2000 blurred standards for police behavior, Duncan said he did not think so.

He praised Wrisley’s professionalism and work ethic in a follow-up letter to the newspaper.

‘He must be doing a pretty good job’

In West Linn, officials there have voiced concern about Wrisley since this series began but continue to stand by Timeus as their chief.

He was the top choice for the West Linn job, unanimously selected by an interview board after the police department suffered a period of critical instability under the leadership of John Ellison, who resigned May 11, 2005 after a vote of no-confidence from officers and a scathing review of his performance by an outside consultant.

Prior to Timeus’ hire, the department suffered from such severe morale problems it was down to 23 officers of a needed 30.

“The feedback was not good. Looking at a strategic plan that was put together, it seemed to be a top-down plan,” said Scott Burgess, a city councilor in West Linn who was also on the city council at that time.

Intent on hiring the right chief, the interview board chose Timeus, who made morale-building an early goal. Since his term began, Timeus has kept police officer jobs filled, recruiting two highly skilled officers from the Portland Police Bureau and re-hiring officers who had previously left.

Jordan said Timeus’ recruitment of trained officers is saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Morale in the police department is so improved, Jordan said, that the police union recently rolled its old contract terms for another three years.

“A lot of police union contracts end up in arbitration. Not ours,” said Jordan. “From my perspective, all I can do is take a look at our chief and say he must be doing a pretty good job.”

In his inquiry into Losness’ complaint, however, Brown noted that the city of West Linn made a critical misstep in Timeus’ hire: The city never conducted a background check of Timeus prior to making him chief, an issue Jordan blamed on the city’s former human resource director, who has since been fired.

“We’ve gone back and done such a thorough background check it’s probably more thorough than anything that’s ever been done,” he said. “That came back clean.”

Jordan, who was assistant city manager in Lake Oswego when Timeus worked for the Lake Oswego Police Department, said he had no knowledge of the 1992 charges against Wrisley or how Timeus may have been involved. But he said hiring an officer in Lake Oswego would not have hinged on the single recommendation made by Timeus as a corporal.

“I have zero concern about Terry Timeus’ ability to recruit good police officers for the police department. Whatever recommendations he made on behalf of a friend 17 years ago are irrelevant at this time,” said Jordan.

Losness, however, felt otherwise. As he worked through a series of jobs, eventually finding a career with a graphics company, he said watching Timeus become chief of police in his hometown was salt in a wound.

“It was really discouraging to see certain people thrive when other people were never even given an opportunity. I genuinely felt kind of ashamed to see a side of that,” he said. “I would say it’s up to the people of West Linn and Lake Oswego if there’s more to be done. I’m only one person and I don’t want this to be about me. If they want to accept that these people work for their city, that’s their choice.”

Some issues

Since this newspaper first reported that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office found Wrisley assaulted Kay Vandagriff in her home while on duty in 1992, elected officials in Lake Oswego have declined to comment directly on the situation.

Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman made a statement at Tuesday’s city council meeting praising Duncan for his professionalism throughout this series and said he had full confidence in Duncan as chief. He charged former employees of the police department for trying to undo Duncan’s achievements.

Hoffman said he would meet with City Manager Alex McIntyre next week to discuss a response to this series and preview next steps for the city council.

Donna Jordan, a city councilor in Lake Oswego who is not related to West Linn City Manager Chris Jordan, said the city council is expecting input soon and will likely be involved in any revision to hiring policies or other changes in the police department.

“I’m concerned that we have some issues that probably need to be clarified but I am not sure they are as intense” as reported, she said.

Jordan said she is familiar with the kind of nondisclosure agreements signed by the city because similar agreements have previously allowed schools to cover up misbehavior by teachers.

“I think they are finally figuring out that those kinds of things don’t work, that they do come back to bite you if the person is the wrong kind of person to begin with,” Jordan said.

Wrisley, who signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office sealing Vandagriff’s allegations in 1993, now runs the firearms department at the Lake Oswego Police Department. He is credited with reviving the department’s K-9 unit with two dogs in January 2008. A year ago, he attended the Executive Leadership Institute in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University to acquire management skills.

Because an officer with his background could create problems for prosecutors if called to testify in court, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said his office would launch its own, independent inquiry into Wrisley’s prior arrest and the alleged assault on Kay Vandagriff, likely within a month.

The liability problems Wrisley could cause for the police department have already been at issue. In Portland, a federal prosecutor revoked a subpoena for Wrisley in a case against a dope dealer in February 1993, concerned the sexual assault allegations by Vandagriff would compromise the prosecution of a marijuana grower and dealer. The case against the man was instead dropped.

Wrisley’s history has also been brought up in another case involving the city of Lake Oswego. At the time of Wrisley’s arrest for the alleged assault on his wife, the city was defending a police brutality suit involving a group of officers who responded to calls about a man directing traffic on Pilkington Road Sept. 3, 1998 at the time.

According to the lawsuit, the officers — including Wrisley — followed a mentally ill man suspected of directing the traffic. They entered his home, then fought with him inside. A court later determined the officers had no legal right to enter the house without a warrant, but issues about whether the man was improperly dealt with after he assaulted police inside the home were still winding their way through legal channels.

After Wrisley’s arrest, an attorney for the plaintiff sought records regarding his October 2000 suspension from the police department. The case was settled eight months later for $80,000.

While Wrisley continues in his position as lieutenant, Vandagriff said she is glad that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigation of his alleged assault on her has finally come to light.

“I never knew that the sheriff’s office believed me. It was just reassurance that I did everything right back then,” she said. “It was nice to know and have reassurance from the county that they did believe me and they stand by it.”

Vandagriff now runs a liquor store for the state of Oregon and lives a quiet life with her husband. She did not know that Wrisley had become a police officer after leaving the sheriff’s office until she was contacted by a reporter earlier this year. Though Vandagriff initially declined to be interviewed for this story, she changed her mind.

“There’s a reason this came up and as long as I’m alive to give some substance to it and some validity, then that’s what it’s all about. And it’s still about the same things. It’s still about the victims,” said Vandagriff.

To prepare for this series, she said she talked with her boss and several co-workers about the 17-year-old allegations against Wrisley and also told her son, now grown.

“It was definitely worth it if it helps anyone else to know they are not alone,” she said.

Related stories in the series:

May 21 story: Crossing the Line

May 28 story: Crossing the Line • ‘Cocaine cowboys’ avoid scrutiny

<< Prev. Page 1 | 2

Digg Del.icio.us
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumbleupon Reddit

Reader comments

Re: Crossing the Line: They want to talk, but can’t

Whizzley, Timeus and Duncan Donuts are all sacks of crap. This is FAR from over you wastes of flesh. More power to the Clackamas County DA! You want to treat people in LO and WL like second class citizens? What goes around, comes around. Reap the whirlwind, you bottom feeders. REAP IT.

"'bout F ing time the LOPD garbage got taken out to the curb"

(email verified)

Thu, Jun 04, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Chris Jordan, West Linn City Manager & formerly employed by Lake Oswego says, "I don't get stuck in the weeds," to defend his disinterest and lack of knowledge of the issues brought up in the articles. My 1st thought was, "Wow, that explains a lot." And my 2nd was, "This guy runs the city & the buck stops with him. There's something wrong with that picture."


(email verified)

Thu, Jun 04, 2009 at 01:38 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Anyone who knows Timeus knows that he has always used colorful language and (sometimes inappropriate) joke-telling as part of his persona. No group was safe, not women, not blondes, not other races. Except, come to think of it, short people.


(email verified)

Thu, Jun 04, 2009 at 01:52 PM

Wow, that's a lotta words..

i wonder what it says.

not to be snotty, but a few bullet points up front with a summary might have drawn me in. as it is, i can't commit to it.

writers must realize in this day and YouTube age, there's a lotta competition for our attention and most readers won't be as excited about a topic as the writers are.

but, citizens are sick of secrecy and cover-ups by leaders who are alleged to be our servants.

time to take charge of our servants and demand public accountability and disclosure.

"Notorious Kelly"

(email verified)

Thu, Jun 04, 2009 at 02:35 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Isn't it interesting that the LO Review is running concurrent articles about inappropriate behaviour by individuals from Lake Oswego and the authorities who have been reticent to be honest with the LO public. Don King gets away with molestation because his attorney calls a victim of his abuse crazy and the public and courts buy that excuse and deny her voice at his trial. The Lake Oswego police department gets to hide inappropriate behavior by calling a victim vindictive. However, what really happens with all this deception is that the people of Lake Oswego become victims also. We now have to always ask "Is our school district and police department protecting us or the perpetrators"?


(email verified)

Thu, Jun 04, 2009 at 04:06 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

The article says Timeus recruited "two highly skilled officers from the Portland Police Bureau"... I'm curious if we can learn the names of these shining examples of defenders of the public...or are we already familiar with them?


(email verified)

Fri, Jun 05, 2009 at 04:56 AM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Sooo much corruption here in oregon.....no wonder the cops here have no respect for citizens. During WWII The Gestapo and SS used schnee[cocaine] and methamphetamines to do their dastardly deeds to human life in Europe...they too had no respect for human life. It's like the law here in oregon is like the Mexican Federal cops....If you got money you go free! Why can't we use cocaine and not be prosecuted?....How Piggish! I guess that's where the word came from....LOL!

"john masuo"

(email verified)

Fri, Jun 05, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Last week I had the temerity to ask why this story has been shoved to the bottom of the proverbial pile. Rather than answer me, the editors just deleted my post. Nice.

I really just wanted a response as it seemed to me that this important story was being squashed.

As a foot note, I think the story was even more difficult to find this time given hat the link contains no reference to the original story.

Sorry Trib, I'm a fan and feel you are usually the best at getting info out to the public of the local press media but I don't see this in the handling of this story.


(email verified)

Fri, Jun 05, 2009 at 01:12 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

why arent we rising up to get these lying sacks out of office or off the force....how do you get a job as a cop when you are a RAPIST? i dont get it? what do we need to do to get these jokers out? go clackamas co..i hope someone will finally do the right thing Hey Wrisley! i would resign if i were you, just a thought....


(email verified)

Mon, Jun 08, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

It’s very disappointing to see our elected officials simply ‘blow off’ the misdeeds of the Lake Oswego Police Department. From what we have learned so far, it would be very appropriate to remove Chief Duncan from this force and replace him with a candidate that isn’t as cozy with sex offenders and wife abusers. As for Lieutenant Wrisley, he should be removed now that his ‘credentials’ have become public.

And where there is smoke, there is bound to be fire. The situation calls for an impartial outside investigation, and by impartial, I don’t mean 100% police offices, as they have a bad reputation for looking the other way when it is their own profession that is at fault.

Another place the Review might look is the harassment of young people in this community by a bored police force. This includes trailing people, pretext stops, profiling and selective enforcement. In addition, LOPD and WLPD are both engaging in sex sting operations that are best left to the Sheriff’s Department or the State Police. Collectively this brings up another major issue – why do the LOPD have the time for this nonsense? Seems to me the LOPD is substantially over-funded while the Lake Oswego School District is desperate for funding. What are Mayor Hoffman and his Council doing about this? They appear to be hunkering down and waiting for all of this to go away.


(email verified)

Mon, Jun 08, 2009 at 09:09 PM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Sounds to me that both Wrisley and Losness should be driving a cab, not one a police officer and one a chronic chronicler of others foibles.


(email verified)

Tue, Jun 09, 2009 at 09:42 AM

Re: Crossing the Line • They want to talk, but can’t

Isn't it interesting that Mayor Hoffman and former Assistant City Manager, Chris Jordon, who is now City

Manager in West Linn have exposed themselves as part

of the "Good Old Boy Network."

"Patriarchy Sucks!"

(email verified)

Tue, Jun 09, 2009 at 12:23 PM