A police chief in Oregon has retired after fellow officers accused him of making racist comments about a black woman who threatened to file a discrimination complaint against the department.
Marvin Hoover, 56, was accused of dancing around the office like a monkey in a complaint filed by Officer Alex Stone. Hoover, who had been on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the allegations, retired earlier this month, The Oregonian reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He ‘Beat His Chest Like Tarzan’ & Made Monkey Sounds
Officer D. Alex Stone said the chief’s actions came after he was debriefed on the arrest of a woman who claimed discrimination by the arresting officers.
“I relayed several of the arrestee’s remarks such as, ‘When you look at me, my black and my nappy hair, all you see is animal,'” Stone wrote in the complaint, which was made to the Oregon Department of Public Safety. “Chief Hoover interrupted me and said, ‘That’s what she is.'”
According to the complaint (which you can read above), “Chief Hoover then began to act like a monkey. Chief Hoover placed his hands in his armpits and began scratching them. Chief Hoover also started making loud monkey sounds: ‘Hooo….hooo….hahahaha…..hooo……haaah.” While Chief Hoover was scratching and chanting, he started to move around the room, in a dance or jumping fashion. While jumping and moving about the room Chief Hoover momentarily beat his chest like Tarzan.”
2. The City’s Mayor Praised the Chief for a ‘Job Well Done’ After His Retirement
Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl had a letter to the editor published in the local newspaper, The Chief, on September 4, after Marvin Hoover retired. In the letter, she praised Hoover for a “job well done,” and did not mention the allegations of racism made against him. She wrote:
The subject of my contemplation is the retirement of our Police Chief Marvin Hoover. Where my general thoughts are gladness for the richly deserved rest from law enforcement pressures, I also must admit a sadness that the security this community has enjoyed under his watchful duty is at an end. It is evident he loves this community and has protected it with honor and courage.
In the eight and a half years I have been Mayor, I have witnessed his influence in helping to establish the K-9 program to stem the tide of drugs; helping to organize and instruct the Clatskanie Emergency Response Team (CERT); save lives; put bad guys in jail; and receive the Medal of Valor from the police agencies in Oregon for going into a hot situation to try and save his friend, Chief Painter.
There were many daily issues he dealt with as our Chief. The list could go on and on. I have also heard many compliments from all over the county about our Chief.
I have a particular respect for law enforcement officers because my “baby” brother is a retired Sheriff Deputy; my nephew was an officer until his deployment to Iraq and as an EMT on an ambulance in Lincoln County, I worked with both State Police and Sheriff’s Deputies on a regular basis. Without honorable officers, we would live in a world of chaos and lawlessness. I consider Chief Hoover an honorable man and officer.
Pohl told KOIN, “I made those statements because I lived in this community for 19 years, I work closely with Chief Hoover on many issues. I was just thanking him for 16 years of the service he gave. The investigation was completed as far as the city was concerned. We do not approve nor condone any racist comments from any of our city employees.”
3. One of the Officers Who Reported the Chief Has Faced Death Threats
Officer Alex Stone, who made the complaint with the Oregon Department of Public Safety, said in the complaint that his sergeant told him his life would “be hell” if he filed the complaint.
“I almost felt as if I was being dissuaded from pursuing a complaint,” Stone, who is white, wrote. “I then told Sgt. (Shaun) McQuiddy that I was not a racist…that I love black people and would not stand for Chief Hoover’s behavior. I then reminded Sgt. McQuiddy that the City of Clatskanie hired me on the premise that I would be unbiased, ethical, moral and lawful. I then told Sgt. McQuiddy that what Chief Hoover did was unethical and immoral and demanded a response.”
Another officer, Zack Gibson, also wrote a report in the complaint. The officers told KOIN-TV that they and their families have faced harassment.
“I’ve received death threats, a tire flattened with a nail on my driveway,” Stone told the news station. “My kids, they’re afraid to go outside.”
The city issued a statement on Tuesday asking for “respect” for the officers who made the complaints.
4. The City Council Voted to Allow the Chief to Retire
The Clatskanie City Council voted 5-1 to allow Hoover to retire. Council member Dave True said in a statement:
I felt it was important for the investigation to be concluded to determine the context in which the remarks were made and just as importantly determine why the officers felt they had to make the initial complaint directly to the DPSST and not to city management. There was not any information from the investigation available to review at this meeting.
It is important to note the chief has been retired for about four or five years and works on an annual contract (approved annually). He is allowed to work full time and also draw his PERS retirement. This is a common practice and allowable in smaller cities and counties for police and fire fighters. It is somewhat of a savings for the city in that certain benefits, PERS contributions for one, do not have to be paid.
The chief certainly had the right to opt out of his contract. However, I was not comfortable expending additional public funds (four months pay and an extra month of medical benefits) until the information from the investigation and the recommendations from the DPSST regarding the investigation had been received by the city and reviewed by the council.
5. He Had Worked as the City’s Police Chief Since 2002
Hoover became Clatskanie’s chief in 2002, and worked for the department for a total of 16 years.