Cottage Grove police chief, captain accused of “deeply unprofessional conduct” during investigation | Regional

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COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — After former Cottage Grove Police Department Chief Scott Shepherd and Captain Conrad Gagner resigned from their positions in early October 2022, questions remained unanswered about why they were placed on administrative leave in July 2022.

Now, documents received from a request for public records submitted to the Cottage Grove City Recorder have revealed countless disturbing allegations of misconduct by Gagner and Shepherd which likely led to their resignations. The sordid details include allegations of racial insensitivity, sexual harassment, incompetence in the execution of their duties, and disregard for the safety of CGPD officers and law enforcement agents of other departments.

Two Notices of Potential Termination penned by the Cottage Grove City Manager, Richard Meyers, show that former chief Shepherd and former captain Gagner were placed on paid administrative leave on July 29, 2022 pending an investigation. In the notices, which were sent on September 30, 2022, Meyers told Gagner and Shepherd the investigation had uncovered evidence of misconduct and significant performance deficiencies. After receiving these notices, both former chief Shepherd and former captain Gagner sent emails to the city manager on October 3, 2022, informing him of their intention to resign. They left their positions on October 5, 2022.

The Notice of Potential Termination issued to former captain Gagner said the investigation found numerous examples of unprofessional conduct. Among several specific examples of misconduct, Gagner is alleged to have:

• Used racial slurs including the “N”-word, as well as homophobic language on a semi-frequent basis in the workplace

• Placed his genitals on a sandwich, taken a picture of it, then sent that picture to an officer eating a similar sandwich

• Placed the cell phone of a female city employee on his crotch on the outside of his pants and rubbed it around his crotch area while laughing, in front of that female employee and in the presence of the chief.

Gagner is also alleged to have posted videos from police surveillance videos on his TikTok account, said he would remove those videos when asked, and as of the date the notice was issued, had not removed those videos.

The notice also said Gagner did not ensure a professional and efficient workplace and was neglectful in his duties. Examples include:

• Failing to act when informed that some CGPD members may have drove home from a December 2021 party while intoxicated

• Failing to take action when the wife of a CGPD employee came into the station and began throwing items in the employee’s office, causing a major disturbance

• Allowing officers to wear ballistic vests with expired manufacturer’s warranties

Former captain Gagner is also alleged in the notice to have flouted city jail protocols. The notice lists an incident where the captain held someone in jail who had been sentenced to time already served. They were eventually released when they swallowed a spoon and had to be sent to a nearby hospital, the notice said. Gagner is also alleged to have released prisoners in conflict with the municipal judge’s sentences. Captain Scott Shepherd, as the police chief and therefore the person ultimately responsible for the jail, is also implicated in allowing Gagner’s actions to continue.

A similar Notice of Termination was sent to former captain Scott Shepherd which notes several instances of unprofessional conduct on Shepherd’s part. It noted that Gagner was Shepherd’s direct subordinate, and said Shepherd did nothing to curb Gagner’s own unprofessional behavior, which implied some degree of toleration of that behavior.

The notice also mentioned an incident from 2011, where Shepherd, then a sergeant, pulled pubic hair from his pants and put those hairs on the phone of another officer, in front of a third officer. In the other alleged incident from 2011, Shepherd allegedly used both hands to slap the buttocks of a female CGPD staffer while she was bent over a computer, then told another officer who was present something to the effect of “yeah, and her husband is OK with it.”

According to the notice of potential termination, Shepherd allegedly engaged in an inappropriate relationship that led to his wife coming to the police department, entering his office, throwing things around in there and rifling through his desk.

Among several failures to properly manage the CGPD alleged in the notice, chief Shepherd is alleged to have failed to address alcohol misuse by CGPD officers. Shepherd is alleged to have allowed an officer in his presence to drink so heavily they had to be taken to a hospital. He also did nothing when an officer failed to report to his shift due to being too intoxicated, the notice said. Shepherd was alleged to have failed to engage freely-available employee assistance program services to address these issues.

In the notice, former chief Shepherd is said to have failed to respond to calls for assistance by neighboring law enforcement agencies. The notice gives a December 2021 example where Shepherd allegedly denied a call for assistance by a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was in a gunfight with a suspect less than 10 minutes outside Cottage Grove city limits, and who had to wait nearly 30 minutes for assistance. In another incident, Shepherd allegedly did nothing to address an incident where a CGPD sergeant denied a request for assistance from a Lane County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who had to hold a suspect known to be armed at gunpoint for more than 10 minutes by herself before help finally arrived.

Both former chief Shepherd and former captain Gagner sent letters of resignation via e-mail to Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyers on October 3, 2022. Both Gagner and Shepherd left the CGPD on October 5, 2022.

KEZI has asked the Cottage Grove City Manager to comment on the investigation that led to the allegations against the former captain and chief to come to light. He has not yet responded as of the afternoon of March 15, 2023. However, the Assistant to the City Manager did issue a statement on the matter.

The Assistant to the Cottage Grove City Manager stressed that the allegations against the former chief and captain remain mere allegations, as the investigation into their conduct was never finalized due to their resignations. As for why the pair was only put on administrative leave as recently as 2022 when certain alleged incidents happened as far back as 2011, the Assistant to the City Manager said officials had only recently found out about the incidents when the two were put on leave. The Assistant to the City Manager thanked the Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Eugene Police Department for their help in covering patrols and lending staff.

The Assistant to the City Manager also confirmed that three sergeants and a dispatch supervisor at CGPD are also on paid administrative leave. He said the matter is still under investigation, and was unable to comment further on it.

Cottage Grove police chief, captain accused of “deeply unprofessional conduct” during investigation | Regional

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