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Klamath County Asks Sheriff To Go On Leave Amid DOJ Investigation

<p>Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah</p>

Samantha Tipler

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah

The Klamath County Board of Commissioners has requested that Sheriff Frank Skrah go on voluntary administrative leave while the Oregon Department of Justice investigates the department.

"We believe it would be best for his office, best for community safety, and best for Sheriff Skrah, if he would go on administrative leave until the DOJ matter is resolved," Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said in a release Wednesday evening.

The request came a day after seven Klamath deputies asked to be put on administrative leave from their jobs. Eugene attorney Becky Gallagher, who represents the Klamath County Peace Officers Association, said the deputies requested to be placed on leave because they feared retaliation from Skrah.

Gallagher said the deputies were interviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice as part of an investigation of Skrah.

"There were concerns about workplace harassment and retaliation by the sheriff," said Gallagher. "So for their safety we sought protective leave. They county agreed and those deputies who requested were placed on paid administrative leave."

The county board said it believes if Skrah took leave, the deputies would return to their posts.

"His actions were meant to impede Cpl. Krag's ability to process grievances and to represent KCPOA members adequately. By changing his schedule, refusing to pay him money earned and issuing corrective action the Sheriff hoped to stop Cpl. Krag's attempts to represent his members. The threat was clear — raise union issues with me … and I will mess with your life and your job."

Gallagher said KCPOA plans to add additional counts to that complaint. A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for Oct. 6.

Morris could not comment on how long the sheriff's deputies could be on leave.

"I can only say we that we are following our human resource policies related to the deputies' request," said Minty Morris. "We are committed to public safety for our county and of course for the protection of our employees."

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher