Embattled Sheriff Dan Staton to retire in August

Sheriff Dan Staton on Friday announced plans to retire Aug 16

Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton. (Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton on Friday announced plans to retire Aug 16, ending a seven year tenure that has become increasingly controversial.

Staton’s interim successor, former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, will be sworn in as undersheriff — Staton’s second-in-command — on June 20. Then he will succeed Staton until an election can be held.

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Before the announcement, Reese had said he plans to run for the job, regardless.

The news was delivered in an internal staff email at 10:40 a.m.

In the email, Staton wrote, “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.”

Staton had been planning to retire at the end of his term in 2018. But since early this year he’s been battered by a series of revelations. The newspaper Willamette Week has broken news of allegations ranging from misogynist and inappropriate comments and whistleblower retalation to misuse of county funds, while the Portland Tribune broke the news of a claim by union officials that he had essentially tried to “bribe” their president with an offer of a promotion, while threatening critics with retribution.

Staton denied all wrongdoing, though he acknowledged he might be ready to retire early, in January 2017.

“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is an excellent organization, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the dedicated individuals who serve there. I’m looking forward to getting started and contributing to the important work of the organization.” — Mike Reese

The sheriff’s announcement came the day after the Portland Tribune reported that former Sheriff Bernie Giusto had said Staton had lost his ability to lead the office, echoing another former Sheriff, Bob Skipper’s earlier statements.

The announcement came two days after two of Staton’s chief deputies, Jason Gates and Tim Moore, had petitioned the county for whistleblower protection, calling Staton’s behavior “erratic.” They would be potent witnesses in the ongoing personnel investigation launched by Chair Deborah Kafoury.

The county investigation’s results were expected to be used as fodder for a complaint to the state police certification agency, calling for him to be stripped of his badge.

Matt Ferguson, president of the sheriff’s deputies’ union, had gone public with his members’ desire for Staton to resign. He said, “I commend the sheriff for taking this appropriate decision in setting the sheriff’s office in the right direction.”

In a statement Friday afternoon, Reese said: “The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is an excellent organization, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the dedicated individuals who serve there. I’m looking forward to getting started and contributing to the important work of the organization.”

Kafoury also released a statement Friday afternoon: ‘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.”

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report

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