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‘Absolutely demoralizing’: 2 lawsuits allege toxic work environment at Redmond PD

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ)-- Two lawsuits against the city of Redmond were filed recently by former and current police officers, alleging toxic workplace behavior by two supervisor lieutenants, Eric Beckwith and Jesse Petersen.

Officer Hannah Copeland has been with the Redmond police force for more than 20 years.

She alleges Beckwith created a toxic environment in part by threats of physical violence, sexually demeaning comments, jokes about intercourse with other employees' wives, racial harassment and verbal berating for no cause.

Her attorney, Dan Thenell, spoke Friday to NewsChannel 21.

"Efforts at police reform and police accountability are not being appropriately being directed at management the way that they should be, at these supervising officers, the command staff, the chiefs, the city managers that are in control," Thenell said.

The lawsuit states that Copeland came forward with information in another investigation into Beckwith's actions in 2019, which ultimately led to a suspension and a loss of her status as an acting in charge officer, ultimately leading to a 5% cut in pay.

She's suing for $250,000.

"You're good honest officers, and you come forward, and then you're treated the way that it is, the way that we alleged in these complaints has concerned -- it's absolutely demoralizing," Thenell said.

The second lawsuit is being brought by former officer Ryan Fraker, who was with the department for more than 15 years.

He was fired last February.

Fraker claims in his lawsuit that he came forward about Petersen's conduct, which he saw as toxic.

He said he began to receive retaliatory action against him as well, including receiving low performance scores and allegedly false accusations against him on duty. 

Ultimately, he was fired.

Thenell, also representing Fraker, said he is currently not employed as an officer.

“In my opinion, because Redmond branded him a liar, he is not employable as a police officer. I have other clients who have been fired under similar circumstances, have been branded as a liar or as a dishonest police officer and have applied to multiple agencies, and they’re just simply not employable as a police officer,” Thenell said.

He is suing the city for $5 million. 

A city spokeswoman said they city cannot comment on pending litigation.

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

Comments

42 Comments

    1. And these arent even the guys with the racist flags on their cruisers (thats the county)… us taxpayers see this garbage every day and the truth is obvious, i thank these burger flippers for their honesty and i hope the truth can make things better for the rest of us burger flipping taxpayers 🤠

        1. – insular, white bread, pampered, entitled crybaby babbling on about racism, as if he is actually making sense – amazing what privilege and isolation can do to a psyche

    2. As a tax payer, I’d want our police departments to live by a moral code and behave decently so we wouldn’t have to shell out tax dollars on such lawsuits.

    3. Well, not really.

      The City is insured and it will be the insurer who pays out if it, after review, it elects it is best to do so.

      That said, it is pro forma these days for police administrators to demonize their officers who step forward and do the right thing.

      As Redmond PD’s administration is now doing.

      Same old song and dance.

    4. – pity the women in your life – no matter how good and righteous they are, no matter what happens to them – they better just get over it.

      – BTW – your problem is with the police union which will not allow individual offenders to be held accountable for their actions

    5. Suing taxpayers that support and put up with a crooked and corrupt police force that bullies their coworkers and sexually harass women. Even the chief of police is involved. How embarrassing. And what’s wrong with flipping burgers? Sounds like your one of them.

  1. Every person who has ever gone to file a report only to have the cop found innocent of any misconduct was SHOCKED to hear your your complaints fell on deaf ears. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I’m sure your skillset of violence and intimidation will be super-handy in the job market, good luck to you both.

    1. I am as liberal as they come, but you are absolutely wrong. A human being, accepting a job, is entitled to not be treated like this, regardless of the title. You need to really reconsider your stance on things.

  2. As is the strategy of far too many city and police administrations these days, especially in Central Oregon it seems (historically), “they” embrace the bad or poor performers and their behavior while at the same time assassinating the good character of those officers who do as they have been trained / taught to beginning at the police academy.

    This to continue to cover up what are often years of generational “wink-winking” and “boys will be boys” cultures meant to keep the rank and file in line.

    Redmond PD’s alleged “shaming” strategy was just emulated at Bend PD this past week when it closed a citizen complaint filed against Officer Scott Schaier reference possible misconduct reference the August 12, 2020, demonstration turned violent protest in Bend involving ICE (see story link UPDATE). Reason given? Alleged “bias” against the officer in question and/or the IA investigator and an outright distortion of the factual record as reflected by successful public information releases regarding both the officer in question and the sequence of events prior to August 12th debacle as overseen by Chief Michael Krantz.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tyler-throwaway-human-being-them-karen-jacques-greg-walker/

    Too many senior police administrators have been encouraged to master the art of subtle duplicity within their organization. The goal? To enforce bad practices and behaviors cultivated over many years and supported by equally jaundiced city administrators. If doing so means throwing good cops off the force or discrediting them to the point where they are seen as poor witnesses to such bad behavior, so be it.

    Legendary “bad cops gone wild” in Central Oregon include –

    Lt. Larry Prince, Redmond PD – https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-ore-police-lieutenant-charged-with-theft-forgery-2011feb10-story.html

    Cpt. Marc Mills, Sunriver PD – https://www.opb.org/news/article/police-chief-marc-mills-sunriver-oregon-resigns/

    Cpt. Scott Beard, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office – https://www.mycentraloregon.com/2016/09/08/former-deschutes-county-captain-scott-beard-sentenced-to-5-years/

    Cpt. Bill Fugate, OSP – https://katu.com/news/local/osp-captain-bill-fugate-charged-with-domestic-violence

    Chief Eric Bush, Prineville PD – https://kbnd.com/kbnd-news/local-news-feed/106816

    Sheriff Greg Brown, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office – https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/former-sheriff-greg-brown-guilty-of-embezzling-funds/article_a070c8fb-c093-5f74-91ae-9b9e43f9d9ae.html

    Ofc. John Wallace, Madras PD – https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2019/04/former-madras-cop-sentenced-to-6-years-in-federal-prison-for-sexually-abusing-a-girl.html

    Deputies Mike Malloy and Mark Reitmann, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office – https://www.hermistonherald.com/news/former-deputy-faces-trial-on-sex-abuse-drug-charges/article_e974b267-c5ff-5ce4-a070-dfec0f9426bb.html

    In each case the questionable, known, or otherwise acknowledged criminal behavior was known about by someone in the offending officer’s agency, sometimes reported formally or “unofficially”, and nothing done until far too late for the victims, the agencies involved, and the communities they served.

    Start holding the senior most police administrators fully accountable and watch best practices again take root. Otherwise, the cycle will simply continue to repeat itself.

    1. The part of this that the public isn’t seeing is that all internal investigations are handled within that LE agency. Generally speaking, the governmental Human Resources department isn’t involved, or in most cases aren’t allowed to be involved per policy. So, peers investigate peers. Sometimes, friends investigate friends, and so on. Now, say you have an officer whom is seeing things within their department that are either illegal in a civil sense or criminal sense and report them, who do they report to? Their own agency. And if those complaints implicate liability or a negative light being cast on their agency (especially now in these times), that agency will protect itself by attacking the officer who tried to do the right thing. This is exactly what Hannah appears to have done. When you fall out of line with an agency by questioning the practices of your agency, they usually will start attacking you on policy issues, report writing, driving habits, whatever they can find to build their portfolio against you. You either fold and get back in line to protect your job, or you leave, or the hits keep coming to where they can build a termination case against you. What you aren’t seeing here is a very key word, resignation. It’s easier to present an employee separation that isn’t legal and is the result of the bully like “protect your own” behavior, is to get them to resign in lieu of termination. Every officer, deputy, trooper knows that if your fired, you can potentially lose your certification and if you resign, you can protect it. Ryan was “fired” which tells me they tried to force him out illegally and he said “pound sand, you’re gonna have to fire me.” because he knew what they were doing wasn’t right. And then he did what he should have done, file a lawsuit because that forces the city to look into the termination more thoroughly, exposing what it is…just another attempt to force out someone trying to do the right thing.

  3. How many people are employed buy the Redmond police department? And 2 get fired and file lawsuits, hmmm. It could be that the firings were warranted and they were contacted by a (the same) lawyer who makes his living this way. I wonder.

  4. We all know inappropriate work place behavior exists despite best efforts to curb it. When it occurs there should be consequences. Unfortunately, it’s also true that people sometimes initiate frivolous complaints when they are demoted, fired, or about to be fired. We should probably wait for the outcome of any legal proceedings before painting anyone in a bad light.

  5. The fools that support this behavior would not last in a workplace with proper HR. These two Officers and the people on this feed that support this behavior are losers! Probably aging men that have miserable lives!

  6. Redmond PD has gone downhill ever since they started hiring our rejects from the REZ! Thank the Chief! Leadership starts from the top down!

    Red Martini, anyone?

  7. Those were the only 2 that were caught with their pants down. There were some good officers on the redmomd force and they are now fired the ones still their, are wells, the dirty ones… no pun intended!!!

  8. This I know….

    I’ve had the opportunity to work with all three of the named in this article. Ryan and Hannah are two of most honest former and current police officers in Central Oregon. Great families. Active in their communities outside of law enforcement. Kind officers who aren’t perfect mind you, none are, but do their best. They aren’t liars. And like all of those who stand up to the established “us versus them” law enforcement culture in Central Oregon, they’re attacked ruthlessly.

    Eric Beckwith is none of those things. He is dishonest and lies consistently while “performing his job.” I’ve personally witnessed this on search warrant applications when Beckwith worked on their street crimes team. When it was reported to his supervisor who, at the time, was also on CERT (think varsity football team in high school) it’s brushed under the rug because the subjects of the Search Warrant were in his words “pieces of crap.” And he’d “talk to him about it.” But, it just kept happening. Now that Beckwith has climbed the ladder because he’s part of that ‘football team’, he’s going after the officers who’ve been around long enough to know where his skeletons lie.

    And don’t be naive that DA Hummel will get involved. He’s a political animal whose sided with an equally corrupt ex-police chief on two unjustified officer involved shootings because the two of them were working on Kaylee’s law ( a feather in Hummel’s cap for his aspirations for higher office…and to use for self-promotion on Tinder). He got his political back scratched and that’s all he cares about.True story.

    Anyways, Ryan and Hannah are very honest and hard working people who’ve learned the hard way that unless you’re part of the “boys club” you’ll be forced out. Good for them for standing up.

      1. Why do you keep repeating that? Are you trying to point out the fact that the chiefs wife, or ex-wife owned the Red Martini in Redmond? Everyone already knows that and covid drove it under, anyway.

  9. Crooked corrupt cops and city officials stuck in their old ways are the problem with this town and all of central oregon. It’s pretty bad when the people we trust to serve and protect us dont even have loyalties to their own. These cert team or code team guys are the biggest power tripping cops around. Their jobs are meaningless and they have to bully and pick on people and abuse authority in order to feel like they have worth. Fire them all and start over fresh. The chief is even named in the lawsuit.

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