|SHERIFF EMBARRASSED BY DEPUTIES' ACTIONS|
|October 24, 2000 11:00 pm|
An altercation between two Curry County Sheriffs deputies has resulted in no criminal charges being filed, but plenty of embarrassment for Sheriff Kent Owens.
Owens spoke with The Pilot Monday and turned over a copy of an Oregon State Police investigation of Deputy Mark Creighton.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint of harassment and disorderly conduct filed by Deputy Ted Longton as a result of a confrontation between the two off-duty deputies in a Port Orford market.
The whole thing up there is an embarrassment to the sheriffs office, said Owens.
Im embarrassed by the language they used in a public place where there were women and children present, he said.
Longton called the Port Orford City Police after the incident, said Owens, then filed a complaint with the state police when the city police refused to become involved.
Owens said the state police requested a letter from his office to allow the investigation to continue, which he supplied.
Owens didnt condone what happened between his deputies, but said he has no control over what they do off-duty, unless it results in criminal charges.
District Attorney Elect Charlie Steak confirmed Tuesday that criminal charges will not be filed.
Owens said he wanted prosecution to take place if anything that happened was prosecutable.
I believe police officers should be held to a higher standard, he said.
The investigation report filed by Detective Dale Oester did not show much in the way of higher standards on the part of Creighton and Longton.
Employees of Rays Food Place in Port Orford were interviewed, but few heard or saw the argument.
Longton filed his version of the story, but Creighton refused to offer a statement to Oester. Creighton did, however, issue a press release saying the investigation was politically motivated.
According to witnesses reports, the incident began at about 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 1. When the deputies and their wives passed each other in the store, Creighton said Theres Ted and Teresa Longton. Hi Ted.
Depending on the account, the greeting was either friendly, or loud and mocking.
Longtons wife was upset enough to return to her car and let her husband finish the shopping.
Not long after, Longton again met Creighton and his wife. Depending on the account, Longton was either trying to avoid the Creightons, or was blocking their way with his cart.
By Longtons own account, he then asked Creighton what it was like to be mentally ill. Those close enough to hear reported an exchange of swearing and threats.
Accounts also verify that Longton then apologized to the closest witnesses for what they had just heard and seen.
Other employees who later saw Creighton and Longton in the checkout line did not describe either man as agitated.
Oesters report said of one witness, She is absolutely appalled at this type of behavior from these two men. She thinks that they are grown men acting like kids.
Theyre supposed to be protecting the public and instead theyre acting like this. She thinks that a public store is the wrong place for this type of thing.
She knows both men and their families and is not taking sides in this one way or another. All she knows is that it is very childish behavior on both their parts.
Owens agreed, but said the two are protected by their right to free speech on their off hours. He said discipline would have been swift had they been on-duty.
He said this type of behavior on the part of his deputies doesnt make it any easier to pass a law levy to protect the public.
Ironically, Longton told Oester that up until about nine years ago he considered Creighton his closest friend.
Longton felt that changed when he supported Chuck Denney for sheriff instead of Creighton.