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$200K total in paid leave to 3 former Prineville Police employees; city still without a permanent top cop 8 months later

Total compensation to the trio of former Prineville Police employees
Response from City of Prineville

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- During a four-month internal investigation into now-former Prineville Police chief Larry Seymour and captain Rob Gray, the pair, along with former administrative services manager Nikki Hepworth, were paid nearly $200,000 in taxpayer money.

The investigation led to Seymour and Gray resigning, and Hepworth being fired. Despite requests, the results of the investigation have not been released to the public.

It's been nearly eight months since Seymour, Gray and Hepworth were placed on paid leave while an internal investigation took place, but the fallout is still far from over.

In late July of 2023 all three were placed on paid leave while an internal non-criminal investigation into Seymour and Gray took place. Despite repeated requests by News Channel 21 to divulge the scope of the investigation, or what prompted it, the City of Prineville stayed tight-lipped, citing employee privacy as the reason they couldn't comment.

The investigation wrapped up four months later, but to this day, the results of the investigation have not been released. The City of Prineville now says a pending lawsuit is the reason they can't comment.

What we do know is that shortly after the investigation finished, Seymour and Gray both resigned. Hepworth, on the other hand, refused to take her old job back, opting instead to apply for other jobs for the city. When she wasn't hired and was told she would have to work under the command of Lieutenant Shane Wilson, the interim police chief, the city fired her.

She's now suing the City of Prineville and former Chief Seymour for $1.5 million. She's accusing the city and Seymour of retaliation after reporting what she thought was illegal behavior by the then-chief. It's likely the lawsuit the city refers to as the reason they can't comment is the one filed by Hepworth.

The city did tell NewsChannel 21 the cost to taxpayers for the trio's paid leave: $199,503.10.

Former Chief Larry Seymour was paid $74,258.83, Gray was paid $64,025.23, and Hepworth was paid $61,219.04 of taxpayer money. The sums doesn't include what the city paid a third-party investigator to conduct the lengthy investigation. When News Channel 21 asked for that figure, and a copy of the invoice, the city denied the request, saying it involves a pending lawsuit - likely Hepworth's.

The trio hasn't been the only Prineville cops placed on leave during the last year. In January of this year, News Channel 21 broke the news that Officer Jacob Gentry was also put on paid because of a disturbing bar incident that was caught on camera. An investigation into his conduct and the situation is still underway.

Despite it being over eight months since then Chief Seymour was placed on leave, the City of Prineville is still without a top cop. Lieutenant Shane Wilson has been acting as interim chief, while a newly hired law enforcement veteran, Jim Band, helps the city search for a new chief.

A spokeswoman for the city said while Band wasn't hired because of the investigation into Seymour and Gray, he will be reviewing procedures and policies within the department.

The timeline of when taxpayers can expect a permanent new police chief is unclear.

Article Topic Follows: Prineville

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Harley Coldiron


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