Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Communications, which fields 911 and non-emergency calls in the city, disciplined three employees in connection with the leaking of information that falsely implicated Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in a March 3 hit-and-run crash.
BOEC says it concluded its investigation into the leaks less than a week ago—on July 29. (BOEC’s investigation is separate from the Portland Police Bureau’s internal affairs investigation into the matter, which is still ongoing.)
The bureau showed WW the results of the internal inquiry after WW inquired this week, while reporting a story about Hardesty’s intention to sue the city.
All told, BOEC disciplined three employees in connection with the investigation: one on April 17, another on July 14, and a third on July 29. “Our investigation found there was no external leak that came from BOEC,” says bureau spokesman Dan Douthit. “The only information shared through gossip by BOEC employees was within public safety [departments].”
According to Douthit, the employee disciplined on April 17 violated an unspecified bureau policy, “but the level to which this occurred was minor and therefore received a coaching [with] their supervisor.”
On July 14, BOEC sent a discipline letter to an unnamed employee who has worked for the bureau since August 2016 and whose job title is emergency communications senior dispatcher.
The discipline letter says the employee received a message from a co-worker on March 4 through BOEC’s computer-aided dispatch system. The message informed the employee about the allegation against Hardesty.
“You then referred to this information as ‘juicy juicy’ and immediately passed the information to [redacted] with whom you are friends,” the discipline letter reads. “Here again, you referred to the information as ‘juicy.’ When [redacted] cautioned that it may not be true, you replied, ‘Don’t be a grinch...in my head its true.’”
The letter continues: “You then reached out to [redacted] through (Facebook) Messenger to determine if the call was legitimate. Approximately 45 minutes after your first message to [redacted], you wrote to [redacted] again to say, ‘Hardesty thing is legit.’ You then relayed the information to two additional co-workers.”
BOEC determined the employee violated directives relating to gossip and unprofessional conduct. The employee was penalized with a three-day suspension.
According to the letter, BOEC disciplined, trained or counseled the employee on four prior occasions, including in April 2019, when BOEC sent the employee a “Letter of Counseling for exposing confidential information on Instagram.”
On July 29, BOEC sent a discipline letter to a third employee. The employee’s name is redacted from the letter, which says the individual has worked for the bureau since March 2016 and that their current title is emergency communications senior dispatcher.
The investigation into the leak found that the employee received a message March 4 from a co-worker through the CAD system informing the employee of the hit-and-run allegation against Hardesty.
“You replied to this message wondering why the officers on your dispatch net, who were responding to the call, were not sharing this same information with you,” the letter says. “You then immediately CAD-messaged another employee to say, “guess it was the city comiss [sic],” thereby passing on unverified and incorrect information that the suspect was Commissioner Hardesty.”
Like the previous employee, BOEC determined this individual violated directives relating to gossip and unprofessional conduct. BOEC penalized the employee with a five-day suspension.
The discipline letter also outlines seven prior instances in which this employee received training, counseling or discipline. The letter says the employee received a two-day suspension on April 4, 2019, for “creating and posting a video on social media in which you danced in front of your co-workers on BOEC property in a swimsuit.”
The letter says the employee also received a four-day suspension on June 12, 2019, “for making sexual innuendoes and engaging in a sexually explicit conversation with another employee while on duty. The bureau reiterated its expectations of appropriate workplace behavior and warned you that your job was in jeopardy.”
Both July letters were signed by BOEC director Bob Cozzie and City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who oversees the bureau.
“My office has taken the hit-and-run leak seriously, and the Bureau of Emergency Communications has investigated and disciplined employee misconduct,” Mapps said in a statement to WW. “While BOEC employees were not the source of the leak, some employees did engage in unprofessional behavior.”