Oregon’s police licensing agency is closing an investigation into citizen complaints about Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.
The Police Policy Committee of the licensing agency, the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, voted unanimously Nov. 16 to affirm the recommendation of DPSST staff that no further action be taken on the complaints against Palmer. Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe and another voting member recused themselves.
DPSST Professional Standards Coordinator/Investigator Katrina Robson told the committee DPSST received “numerous citizen complaints alleging misconduct” by Palmer. The agency forwarded the complaints to the Oregon Department of Justice, which concluded its criminal investigation in October with no charges filed, stating the “investigation simply has not revealed concrete evidence of criminal conduct.”
Robson said the DPSST waited to review the complaints until the criminal investigation was completed. She said the committee needed to determine the next steps and that DPSST staff recommended taking no further action because, without criminal conduct, there was no “objectively reasonable” basis to initiate proceedings to suspend or revoke Palmer’s police licenses.
“A majority of the allegations contained in the complaints are related to Sheriff Palmer’s management operation of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, matters that are outside of the board’s and the DPSST’s jurisdiction,” Robson said. “After reviewing the remaining allegations and considering the findings of the DOJ’s criminal investigation, staff does not believe that an independent investigation would uncover any additional information related to Sheriff Palmer’s conduct.”
At least eight people sent formal complaints about Palmer to DPSST after he met with people who participated in the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
Most of the complaints focused on Palmer’s involvement with the refuge occupiers, after Palmer met in John Day with three occupiers and the president of a militia group in January 2016. A complaint from John Day Police Chief Richard Gray also accused Palmer of destroying a public record, and an anonymous complaint accused Palmer of issuing concealed handgun licenses to out-of-state residents.
Department of Justice Chief Counsel Michael Slauson said in an Oct. 10 letter the investigation found “insufficient evidence” Palmer destroyed public records, and “the evidence does not support a conclusion” Palmer violated state concealed handgun license laws.