The Associated Press, Wednesday, October 29, 1997

Portland policeman arrested on marijuana charges

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Steven Regalado, a seven-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, was arrested Wednesday and charged with bribery, drug dealing and official misconduct.

Regalado, 37, is accused of selling "relatively small quantities" of marijuana," Detective Capt. Greg Clark told a news conference.

Regalado was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. A Multnomah County grand jury likely will consider specific charges next week.

Police withheld many details, saying the case remains under investigation.

Clark said the investigation began about six days ago and that Regalado allegedly had been involved in illegal activity for about two weeks. There was no indication of further police involvement.

"We hire from the human race and drugs are a problem in our community," said police Chief Charles Moose. "We feel we have to address it. It is not a rampant problem within the Police Bureau."

It was the first such incident since another officer, Brad Benge, was arrested on drug charges about two years ago, police spokesman Lt. Cliff Madison said.

"It is always a great disappointment to me when one of our officers betrays the trust of our citizens," Mayor Vera Katz said. "But most of all, it angers me that this officer's actions betray the excellent reputation of the entire Portland Police Bureau."

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? We welcome your feedback.

[End of first news article]

Follow-up story

The Oregonian, Friday, October 31, 1997

Assault on two prisoners nearly cost Regalado his job

  • Portland Police Chief Charles Moose reportedly wanted to fire the officer but relented following entreaties from the union

    By David R. Anderson
    of The Oregonian staff

    Police Chief Charles Moose wanted to fire Officer Steven Regalado three years ago after Regalado assaulted two prisoners in holding cells, a former police union official said Thursday.

    "They were going to fire him, and it was only after the mitigating factors came out that they didn't," Detective Sgt. Jeff Barker said.

    The union convinced Moose that Regalado was not able to think clearly after the two young men attacked him, kicking him in the head in the street while Regalado was off duty. And they pointed out that it was the first sustained complaint against Regalado. Instead of firing him, Moose suspended him without pay for 15 days.

    "I thought he was worth saving," Barker said.

    Moose would not comment Thursday, and other city officials said they could not talk about the previous discipline.

    When the Police Bureau said Wednesday that detectives had arrested Regalado for marijuana trafficking, it came as a shock to Barker and others who work there. But the case has raised questions about whether Regalado should have been on the force after the 1994 incident.

    It's a question that puzzles the father of one of the young men in the attack. Hank Amrein said he knows and respects many police officers. But he thinks Regalado should have been fired.

    "I figured he would be off the force, but I don't know," Amrein said. "They take care of their own is what I understand."

    A Portland attorney who files about five lawsuits a year against the Police Bureau on behalf of citizens, most of whom accuse officers of excessive force, said he is outraged by the Regalado case.

    "I'm shocked if all he got was 15 days," Tom Steenson said. "I cannot imagine a police officer guilty of assault on a citizen keeping his job. That just cannot happen."

    When Moose became police chief in 1993, he issued a memorandum to all employees saying he would not be held to the discipline standards of past chiefs.

    It's called "slate cleaning," and it sets the foundation for Moose to impose stricter discipline and helps keep an arbitrator from overturning his decisions.

    "Though not an all-inclusive list, there are some conduct violations I will not tolerate," Moose wrote. "Future complaints which result in a sustained finding of any violation of the standards of conduct concerning conformance to laws, truthfulness, use of force, discrimination and sexual harassment shall result in serious discipline up to and including suspension or termination."

    The police union says Moose has become the toughest disciplinarian the Police Bureau has seen for at least 15 years. Will Aitchison, the attorney who represents the union, said he works with police agencies around the country and finds Portland to be the toughest.

    "Portland tolerates no misconduct on the part of its police officers," he said.

    Even Steenson gives the current administration some credit.

    "I think, on balance, the city under Chief Moose and Mayor Katz has done a better job of investigating allegations and, on occasion, disciplining officers," Steenson said.

    But he finds that the Police Bureau tolerates too much rudeness and minor violations. And that breeds contempt for more significant misconduct.

    "It's that kind of conduct that causes escalation to excessive force," Steenson said. "It needs to be nipped in the bud. But the attitude of the union is, 'We should be left alone.'

    "When you look at files, you find officers who are lying, and they're almost never fired."

    But Capt. Dennis Merrill, who heads the Police Bureau's personnel division, said lying is not tolerated.

    "Frankly, that's not acceptable," he said.

    Just last month, for example, the Police Bureau fired Officer Maurice Rodriguez for "untruthfulness."

    Lying is one thing that will get you fired, said Marianna Kanwit, a deputy city attorney. But discipline in the Police Bureau is subjective, with no prescribed punishments.

    In cases of excessive force, the discipline generally is at least one day's suspension, she said.

    However, other agencies have written guidelines. In August, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle updated an eight-page special order that specified discipline for 44 violations, from punctuality to committing a felony. The presumptive discipline for excessive force is five days without pay, but mitigating factors can bring that down to a written reprimand, and aggravating factors can result in firing.

    Kanwit said that under the state's collective bargaining laws for public safety employees, independent arbitrators have the power of overturning discipline. But union officials defend the arbitration system.

    "You can't hammer someone because of politics or perception," Barker said.



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