Klamath County, OR -- Sheriff Frank Skrah of the Klamath County Sheriff's Department is under investigation after he allegedly punched a suspect who was not resisting and in handcuffs.
At the same time the criminal investigation was launched into the allegations of Skrah's excessive force, seven deputies requested to be put on leave. The deputies reportedly asked for the leave because they were concerned with retaliation.
According to Oregon Live,
Department of Justice investigators interviewed several deputies in July about several incidents involving Skrah, said Becky Gallagher, a Eugene lawyer hired by the deputies' union to represent them. The deputies went to commissioners Friday asking to be put on leave out of concern of reprisals.
"The Klamath County Peace Officers Association went to the county and asked for some protection for its members," Gallagher said. "They were concerned about retaliation and a hostile workplace."
At least one deputy had already filed a complaint against Skrah with the Oregon Employment Relations Board, Gallagher said.
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The seven deputies account for more than 20 percent of the entire department.
As soon as it was announced that the deputies were taking leave, the sheriff released the following statement:
Placing these individuals on paid leave was done without consulting with me or my command staff. I will do everything possible, together with my command staff too keep patrols operating for the benefit of the citizens of Klamath County.
The Oregon state police have stated that they will assist the department in their lack of officers.
The fact that such a large portion of deputies is concerned that they would be retaliated against by their department for allegedly pointing out wrongdoing speaks to the nature of the blue wall of protection.
If police officers attempt to call foul in their own departments, they are met with ridicule, demotions, fired, and in some instances have their lives threatened.