Sixty miles northwest of Portland,Oregon lies the City of Clatskanie. Its a small city with less than 2000 people. Over 90% of the population is Caucasian.
Last June, Officer Alex Stone saw Marvin Hoover ,Clatskanie Chief of Police compare an African-American woman to a monkey Sgt. and Officer Zack Gibson also was a witness to Chief Hoover actions.
They said the Chief was scratching and chanting, ” making loud monkey sounds” as he move around the room, in a dance or jumping fashion,” singing “Dixie” while being debriefed on the arrest of a woman who had said she was discriminated against.
Shortly after the chief left the room, Stone told Gibson that he was going to file an official complaint, and that Gibson agreed that he wanted to do the same. When he spoke with McQuiddy a week later about the incident, Stone told investigators, “McQuiddy got extremely quiet and unresponsive.”
Stone eventually sought help on how to file the complaint after contacting the Oregon Department of Justice, NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union and the state public safety standards agency.
Stone told investigators he asked McQuiddy if he would jointly file the complaint with him and Gibson. McQuiddy, Stone said, “told me he didn’t believe anything would happen to Chief Hoover and that the City would make life hell for us for doing this.” Both he and Gibson filed complaints on the same day. McQuiddy was listed as a witness on the report.
Gibson’s statement to investigators said that when Stone called the office of public safety standards he was told to file the complaint online. “We had reservations about that because it stated that the incident would be turned over to our agency for investigation and with us only being a 5-man department could create a hostile work environment,” Stone wrote.
Retribution “Not one person will speak to me,” he said. “It’s insane.”
Officer Stone says he has received death threats and been harassed on and off the job. The threats came by email. He also says he has been harassed, including getting forced off the road while driving with his wife, and being followed while on duty. “There was a nail in my tire,” he said Tuesday, “and my neighbor had nails in his driveway yesterday.”
Lt. Bill Fugate, an Oregon State Police spokesman, confirmed that troopers have taken a report regarding nails left at both homes. Stone said he also filed a criminal mischief report with his own department. City officials, Stone said, will not discuss the complaint or the fallout from it with him.
Marvin Hoover, The Chief of Police takes early retirement with full benefits
Hoover was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 5 while the incident was investigated by a city-hired labor law firm, City Manager Greg Hinkleman said.
On Aug. 19, after an executive session, the city council voted 5-1 to allow Hoover to retire, officially ending the city’s investigation. Hinkleman said city officials are working to name an interim chief.
Council member Dave True, who cast the lone dissenting vote on Aug. 19, released a statement Monday. He said there was no information from the inquiry to review when the severance agreement for the chief was presented to the council. True said he felt it was important to “determine the context in which the remarks were made and just as importantly determine why the officers felt they had to make the initial complaint directly to the DPSST and not to city management.”
He also noted that the chief, who has been retired for “four or five years and works on an annual contract,” is allowed to work full time while drawing from the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System.
“The chief certainly had the right to opt out of his contract. However, I was not comfortable expending additional public funds (four months pay and an extra month of medical benefits) until the information from the investigation and the recommendations from the DPSST regarding the investigation had been received by the city and reviewed by the council.”
(Photo courtesy of The Clatskanie Chief newspaper)
Hoover, 56, joined the department as a sergeant in February 1999 and was named chief in June 2002.
The City plans to provide diversity training for city staff.