OFFICER RETIRES AFTER INQUIRY

July 25, 2001 12:00 am

A 22-year veteran of the Brookings Police Department has retired following internal and external investigations into an alleged incident with a teenage girl.

No charges will likely be filed against the officer, authorities said.

Curry County District Attorney Charlie Steak explained Tuesday what transpired during the alleged incident involving Sgt. Wayne Sheffel.

The incident began when a female juvenile, who was intoxicated, attacked (three Brookings Police Department) officers in a parking lot, one at a time, as they approached, Steak said.

She kicked one of the officers in the testicles, pushed another and spit on one officer, Steak said. Wayne reacted inappropriately to the continued attack by the juvenile.

The Curry County Juvenile Department is presently processing the girl, according to Steak, and will likely be charged with assaulting an officer.

The district attorney said he had not received the final, written report of Oregon State Police (OSP) Sgt. Rick Carltons external investigation, but had received a brief, preliminary report from the investigator.

Steak said he did not intend to file any charges against Sheffel.

Based on that report, he said, I had sufficient information to make a decision not to file any charges against Wayne.

He added, To my knowledge, Wayne has retired as a result of this incident. Theres nothing more I can do to Wayne that compares to him having to resign from his job after (more than) 20 years of excellent service.

He has sufficiently punished himself.

Brookings Police Lt. John Bishop was in charge of the internal investigation into the incident, which led to Sheffels retirement.

There was an incident reported to us, Bishop said. Through departmental procedures, a public complaint was filed and the incident was investigated.

During that investigation, that employee came in and tendered a letter of resignation, and that ended it for us.

Bishop emphasized that no one was fired as the result of the investigation, and to his knowledge, no criminal charges had been filed.

Bishop said Carltons investigation was standard procedure, but that he was not privy to the actual results of that investigation.

The incident was investigated by a neutral outside agency, he said, which is standard policy when an incident occurs within the department.

An OSP investigator or supervisor from outside our area comes in to conduct the investigation so there is no bias. Its standard procedure.

We want to make sure this is done in a fair manner to avoid any sign of bias or impropriety.

We give no assistance to the outside investigator other than to make our personnel available for interviews, and also present any documentation or evidence seized during the investigation. Once we turn that documentation and evidence over to the investigator, its in their possession.

Bishop stated that as of Tuesday afternoon, we have not received anything from OSP on their criminal investigation.

Carlton, based in Roseburg, was unavailable for comment Tuesday and OSP was unable to release any details of his investigation.

Bishop is restricted by law from discussing his investigation.

Due to federal regulations, Bishop said, I cannot discuss the findings or results of an internal affairs investigation.

Sheffel, who has served with the department since Sept. 1, 1979, and has been in law enforcement for a total of 25 years, submitted a letter stating his intention to retire on Wednesday, July 18. He felt it was time to walk away from his life-long profession.

I decided I had been in this business too long, he said Tuesday morning. I needed to get out, it was time to retire.

I could have gotten out five years ago, but I really wanted to wait until I was 62 (less than two years from now). But after talking with my wife about this, we decided that if it was just about money, it wasnt worth it.

Sheffel said that as much as he has enjoyed his career, it was also wearing.

After 25 years in this business, its been hard on the soul, he said. Its time to become a civilian again.

Its time to slow down and watch the world pass by at a slower pace.

Bishop said any complaint received by the department is reviewed.

Our philosophy is that any citizen who has complained about an officer will be taken seriously, he said. We feel the officers should be courteous and professional in all contacts with our citizens.

The chief (Chris Wallace) and I both will treat any complaint with a fair, swift and thorough investigation. If any action is deemed necessary, it will be taken.

The department works hard to have a good relationship with the community, Bishop said.

The Brookings Police Department enjoys a very tight relationship with this community, he said, and we want to keep it that way.

Its vital that we all work together to make this community a safer and better place to live. We want citizens to know we wont sweep anything under the rug.

But we also want to state that we will pursue any frivolous complaints just as thoroughly to protect the integrity of the department and officers.

Wallace said he was confident and satisfied that Bishop had conducted the investigation well.

I feel the internal investigation was handled thoroughly and fairly, he said. It was handled according to policy and procedure.

It was done by the book.