Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton today announced he's leaving office in August, about 28 months before his term is due to end. He will be replaced then by his designated successor, former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese.
Reese will join the sheriff's office now as under-sheriff and, unless something changes, stand for election for the rest of Staton's term, which ends at the end of 2018, on Nov. 8.
Staton has been under increasing pressure since February, when a his top female subordinate, former chief deputy Linda Yankee filed a tort claim notice, outlining Staton's harassment, bullying and belittlement of employees and fellow elected officials. Staton quickly settled the claim at a cost of about $300,000.
Subsequent stories raised questions about his attendance at work; whether he'd buried a damaging audit that showed deputies disproportionately used force against black inmates and punished those who prepared the report; and that he'd ordered a full-loaded new car for himself in violation of county policy.
Earlier this months, the Deputy Sheriff's Association and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees called for Staton's resignation and just this week, two of his chief deputies hired a lawyer and sought protection from what they termed Staton's 'increasingly erratic behavior."
Here's the announcement Staton sent Friday morning to all county commissioners and District Attorney Rod Underhill.
I have been thinking about all of the employees here at the Sheriff’s Office and everything that has transpired over the past months. You truly are the finest… I can no longer subject any of you to the challenges that I am facing. To that end I will be retiring from my position as Sheriff on August 16th of this year. I have informed the Chair and other Commissioners of my decision, to include District Attorney Underhill and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association.
With that, I will be hiring Mike Reese on June 20th as the new Undersheriff. We will begin the process of acclimating him to the Sheriff’s Office operations. This will include transitioning the budget and those responsibilities associated to the position and rank he will hold as the Sheriff’s interim designee. This will include introductions to our Board of County Commissioners and other elected officials and department heads of the county.
I will be sending out a follow up email to fill you in on additional plans as we get closer to my retirement date. I want to thank you for your expressed concern, support and continued service to the citizens of our county.
Multnomah County Sheriff
This afternoon, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, who had asked the county human resources department to investigate Staton after complaints from his subordinates, issued the following statement:
These issues have been a recurring distraction for the men and women of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office who work diligently everyday to protect the health safety and welfare of our community.
They have very difficult jobs and I am keenly aware that they need to be able to focus on those jobs. My staff and I will continue to work with Sheriff’s Office employees to ensure they can be effective and assure a smooth transition.
This is not the time to rehash any issues about the sheriff. I am looking forward, not back. But I want to reassure people who live here and visit, that Multnomah County is committed to their safety and protection.