Sheriff Frank Skrah, of Klamath County, Oregon, is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice after several deputies accused him of using excessive force on a suspect.
The Klamath County Board of Commissioners has requested that he take a voluntary administrative leave this week, News Max reports. The request comes after seven deputies asked to be placed on leave from their jobs because they feared retaliation from Skrah.
“We believe it would be best for his office, best for community safety, and best for Sheriff Skrah, if he would go on administrative leave until the DOJ matter is resolved,” Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said in a statement on Wednesday evening, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
— OPB (@OPB) August 27, 2015
The Oregon Department of Justice interviewed the seven deputies as part of their investigation into the incident, where Sheriff Frank Skrah reportedly punched a handcuffed suspect.
“There were concerns about workplace harassment and retaliation by the sheriff,” Becky Gallagher, who represents the Klamath County Peace Officers Association, explained. “So for their safety we sought protective leave. They county agreed and those deputies who requested were placed on paid administrative leave.”
Terrified Deputies Walk Out On Sheriff After Blowing Whistle On His Police Brutality (VIDEO) http://t.co/sRsarbilNk
— Comella Donaldson (@starfirst) August 27, 2015
The investigation began in July, and Skrah says he is upset because he doesn’t know what is currently going on with the investigation, and finds out the details as the rest of the public does.
“One month later I still have not been advised as to the specific nature of that investigation nor have I been interviewed by representatives of the Oregon Department of Justice,” Skrah said in a statement. “I am learning more about the Oregon Department of Justice investigation and learning about an internal county investigation just like the rest of the public, from media reports.”
Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah has released a statement about the Oregon DOJ investigation http://t.co/EnNdiVCgCw pic.twitter.com/uuFBHeugpH
— News10 (@KTVL) August 26, 2015
Skrah was elected as sheriff in November 2012. He had previously served as a Los Angeles police officer for 25 years and an investigator for California’s judicial department.
The original complaint came in May from Gallagher to the Oregon Employment Relations Board on behalf of Cpl. Daren Krag, president of the Klamath County Peace Officer’s Association. In the complaint, Gallagher suggests Skrah retaliated against Krag by changing his schedule and refusing to pay him overtime.
As of Thursday, Skrah had not responded to the county commissioners’ request that he go on leave. Rather, he asked that the seven deputies give up their badges and guns while they are on leave because he can’t properly supervise them.
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