Probe of anti-Semitism widens at police academy in Oregon

PORTLAND — The Oregon police academy is under fire for alleged anti-Semitic acts that sparked the resignation of two academy instructors and three separate investigations.

The claims have attracted the attention of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has ordered an independent investigation to determine the extent of discriminatory behavior at the Board of Public Safety Standards and Training, which oversees the police academy.

The whole affair dates back to last summer, when Sam Sachs, a sheriff's deputy, filed a complaint in which he accused three instructors of taunting him with stories about Jews using cocaine and saluting Hitler, according to The Oregonian, a Portland daily.

After that investigation, Capt. Jerry Hawley, one of the accused instructors, resigned for undisclosed reasons. Two other instructors were fined and a four-hour Cultural Diversity Sensitivity Training course for instructors was created.

Unsatisfied with the board's response to the incident, Maura Goodman, a Jewish academy instructor, resigned in December.

Goodman said she feels that four hours is not enough time to explore cultural diversity.

"By offering this course, the academy was saying these things wouldn't have happened if there had been sufficient information for people," Goodman said in a telephone interview.

"It gives the appearance of doing something without really doing anything. It's window dressing if it's not coupled with a clear statement of policy and consequences."

In a strange twist, Lt. Bill Boucher, the person in charge of coordinating Goodman's curriculum at the academy, gave Goodman's letter of resignation to Hawley, though he no longer works at the academy.

Concerned by the latest turn of events, Kitzhaber ordered an independent investigation.

"These are very serious allegations [that] taken together represent a potential pattern that cannot be allowed in government," the governor said in a news release.

The independent investigators are expected to file a report detailing their findings and recommendations by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the Board of Public Safety is conducting its own internal investigation. This investigation, the third in recent months, will focus on Boucher's conduct regarding Goodman's letter of resignation, according to Steve Bennett, executive director of the board.

Meanwhile, Goodman's lawyer has taken steps toward filing a lawsuit against the state of Oregon and Boucher.

In a preliminary notice to the state of Oregon, Goodman's lawyer claims that there was "intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of Ms. Goodman's civil rights."

By giving Hawley a copy of her letter of resignation, Goodman claims, Boucher made her vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks by Hawley.

Hawley wrote in a letter to Goodman, "I have never dealt with the jewish [sic] community before, but am now suspicious of their motives and agendas. I now spell jewish without the capital `j,' and that saddens me."

In response, Goodman said, "We capitalize groups because they are human beings. We don't capitalize cats and dogs. What group does he put us in?"