PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A Portland police officer transferred to work at a property evidence warehouse has filed a whistleblower complaint against the Portland Police Bureau claiming he is being punished for speaking out.
Officer Thomas Brennan said he was worried that his sergeant seemed to be under too much stress while working the streets after his involvement in the heavily publicized police custody death of James P. Chasse Jr.
The death of the mentally ill man in 2006 after his ribs were broken during an arrest resulted in widespread publicity and lawsuits, including a federal lawsuit that is still pending.
Brennan told The Oregonian newspaper that he met with his precinct commander last fall, provided details of a call in which he thought the sergeant "grossly overreacted" and recommended the sergeant be moved to a lower-profile assignment.
When his concerns seemed to go nowhere, Brennnan went public with them last fall, sending an e-mail to two city commissioners and the media.
Five days later, Brennan, 41, became the first rank-and-file officer who has been assigned to work at the property evidence warehouse.
Now he also is facing a police internal investigation.
"If a police officer who speaks up is being treated like dirt, how does that reflect on the general public?" Brennan said. "You've got this fine line here. Do you keep your mouth shut and pretend there's not a problem? At some point, you have to do what's right."
Police Chief Rosie Sizer declined to respond to questions about the matter.
Detective Mary Wheat, speaking on the chief's behalf, said Brennan was moved because internal affairs is conducting a "performance review" of Brennan, but would not say what it involves.
"None of this was done for retaliatory purposes," Wheat said. "This has nothing to do with the e-mail. Our officers talk to the media all the time. We don't discipline people for it. We don't even question them about it."
But on Brennan's first day back to work after his e-mail was sent to commissioners and the media, his precinct commander, Mike Reese, called him into his office, and asked him why he took the matter outside the bureau. Reese told him it was unprofessional.
Brennan told the newspaper he responded by saying it was his belief that nothing gets done internally until there is public pressure and scrutiny.
Brennan, a 24-year Navy veteran and native New Yorker, joined the bureau in 2001 after working as an officer in Maryland and in Salem.
He spent three years in the traffic division, where he racked up overtime as he aggressively arrested drunken drivers, and was nominated by his lieutenant in 2006 to be the state's DUII Officer of the Year. Last year, he unsuccessfully ran for police union president.
Brennan says his latest transfer is part of a pattern of retaliation and harassment since he informally told a city staffer in June 2006, and filed a formal complaint in December 2006, accusing his traffic sergeant of groping Brennan's wife at a co-worker's birthday party while off-duty.
Brennan said he continues to speak out. "I kid with my wife -- the only thing they can do now is put me in parking patrol."