By: Taneshia Heineman
University Of Oregon Police Chief Carolyn McDermed was paid $46,000 to step down in what was classified by both McDermed and spokesperson Tobin Klinger as an early retirement.
McDermed abruptly left the job just days before a federal judge awarded a $755,000 award against McDermed and her police department on a whistleblower case after she unlawfully retaliated against an employee when he expressed complaints about her leadership. Later, McDermed lied about the incident repeatedly under oath. The case is ultimately projected to cost the University more than $1.5 million dollars in damages and attorney fees.
McDermed agreed to step down permanently two weeks ago. The police chief was making $139,000 a year and had four months left on her standing contract, however it was agreed upon that she would receive her last four month’s pay as well as a two week accrued vacation, bringing the total to $53,00.
Klinger declined to say why McDermed’s bosses were so eager to be rid of her that they were willing to pay her to step down, however Klinger did disclose the payment in response to a Public Records request from The Oregonian.
In 2008 McDermed was hired as the University’s assistant chief after serving supervisory roles in The City of Eugene Police Department. McDermed later became one of the very few female police chiefs in Oregon when she was promoted in 2012 after the police chief at that time, Doug Tripp, was pushed out and kept on payroll as “adviser” for a period of time.
McDermed was the head of the department as it transitioned from an unarmed public safety department to a police department with a variety of armed and unarmed officers.
McDermed said during a testimony that she was unaware about what was going on in her department. She oversaw approximately twenty four employees, roughly eight supervisors, seven sworn officers and nine public safety officers, many of which testified that petty and vindictive management were rampant.
McDermed indicated during a court hearing that she never looked into some misbehavior and was ignorant to some department policies. She also confessed to knowing little about the actions of her top officers and gave answers in surprising contrast to earlier statements.
The former chief also explained that she knew little about the long standing federal law about police officer honesty and claimed that it did not occur to her that fraud was a form of dishonesty.
Last week, UO hired Pete Deshpande who was previously a captain with the department, to temporarily return and act as interim chief until a permanent replacement can be found.