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Oregon Attorney General Investigates Small Town Police Chief

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) has initiated a criminal investigation against the Police Chief and second-in-command of a small, four-man Oregon police department.

Stanfield is a small Eastern Oregon community of 2,040 people on the Washington border. The four-man police department also patrols neighboring Echo, population 700.

Bryon Zumwalt, 39, was hired as a Stanfield police officer on January 1, 1999. He promoted to lieutenant in 2002 and was named Police Chief on March 1, 2003. Zumwalt's second in command, Troy LaMonte "Monty" Toombs, 36, was hired as lieutenant on March 3, 2014, after working as an Idaho police officer.

Officer Daniel Poffenberger and, until recently, Officer Ryan McBride rounded out the Stanfield police force. In August 2015, however, Toombs placed McBride on leave after he showed up drunk to help an off-duty sheriff s deputy who had driven off the road, according to Poffenberger' s DOJ statement. McBride had been driven to the scene by someone else, said lawyer Sean Riddell.

McBride was then fired in late October 2015, and he filed a notice of intent to sue the Chief and City. He is alleging that he was fired in retaliation for reporting unethical and criminal conduct by Toombs. McBride claims that in August 2015, Toombs seized at least two marijuana plants during a criminal investigation but did not log the plants into evidence, and may have taken them for his own personal use, the notice claims.

McBride also alerted Zumwalt that Toombs had approached married couples in the Stanfield and Echo area, soliciting them to engage in sex acts with him and his wife, according to the notice. Rather than investigate the allegations, the Chief terminated McBride.

In another incident, Toombs was drinking at home and repeatedly called Poffenberger complaining of noise at his neighbor's house, according to Poffenberger's DOJ statement.

Toombs demanded that Poffenberger make an arrest even though he did not have grounds to do so.

During a 2015 burn ban, Poffenberger was called to a house in Echo on a report of a fire burning in the front yard. It was Toombs' home and he was sitting next to the fire. He refused to put out the fire even after learning of the ban, according to Poffenberger.

Among other allegations, Poffenberger also reported that Toombs illegally arrested a truck driver for indecent exposure and searched his truck after he stopped on the side of the road to relieve himself. A state police trooper determined that Toombs did not have probable cause for arrest or search, Poffenberger claimed.

DOJ is also investigating accusations that Zumwalt seized a revolver from a motorist but failed to log it into evidence in connection with the stop, and that he failed to investigate complaints about Toombs made by McBride and Poffenberger.

On November 19, 2015, Stanfield City Manager W. Blair Larsen told reporters that Zumwalt and Toombs were still working because he was not aware of any criminal wrongdoing. By the end of the day, however, both men had been placed on paid administrative leave. Larsen refused to say why. "We're doing the best we can to address everybody's rights," Larsen   said.

The move left Poffenberger as the last man standing in the Stanfield police department.

The city has requested additional patrols from the Umatilla County Sheriff s Office and Hermiston Police Department.

Zumwalt and Toombs did not return calls for comment. DOJ Spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson also declined to comment on the pending  criminal  investigation.

"It'll all come out eventually," said Stanfield City Council Member Jack Huxoll. We will be sure to let you know when it does.

Source: The Oregonian/OregonLive 

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