As you may remember, the state Legislature drafted an amendment this spring to spare Multnomah County Sheriff Bob Skipper from attending basic police training, which includes physical tests. But they attached only one requirement: that Skipper, 70, pass an academic course designed for career officers.
Skipper got word yesterday that he failed that course, earning a 66 percent average on three written tests. It takes 75 percent to pass.
Now Skipper has to re-take the tests, which he plans to do sometime in the next six weeks. He says he put too much pressure on himself to pass.
"I wouldn't say I was stressed out about it, but you feel the pressure," Skipper says. "A lot of people have gone to bat for me, and you've got the (sheriff's office) counting on you."
More than 40 people a year take the course Skipper attended June 15-26, says Eriks Gablicks, deputy director of the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.
Gablicks says in recent years, he can recall only two other people besides Skipper who have failed on their first try.
The course covers Oregon traffic law, criminal law and use of force by police. It's designed for officers who have been out of the line of duty for up to five years and for cops transferring to Oregon from other states.
"It's like any other academic class," Gablicks says. "There is some rigor to it. It's a challenging class. It's not just two weeks at the academy."
Skipper says he's disappointed in his performance but plans to change his study habits in order to pass the second time.
"I'd have liked to get it done the first time," he says. "But you know, there's an awful lot of (laws) to remember for both the traffic and the criminal code. It was quite a little ground to cover."