- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. (AP) - Junction City’s police chief is accusing the city and a former official of discriminating against him due to his Christian beliefs.

Chief Mark Chase claims the city and then-city administrator Melissa Bowers tried to remove him from his position because of the bias, The Register Guard reported (http://is.gd/xkv2G6 ) Friday.

Chase made the claims after officials investigated him and put him on paid administrative leave for more than five months.

According to newly disclosed records related to a claim by Chase against the city, Chase said Bowers asked him whether he received direct communication from God that guides him in his leadership decisions. Chase told Bowers he is a man of faith but felt her questioning was improper.

Chase also alleges that Bowers directed him to meet with other police chiefs to learn how to balance his religious beliefs with his job responsibilities. He claims the administrator placed him on leave after Chase told her to stop asking about his religion.

Records show Chase filed the tort claim notice against the city in February. Bowers left the city that month, saying it was for personal reasons. Efforts by the Associated Press to reach Bowers on Saturday were unsuccessful.

According to the released records, nine formal complaints made by members of the Police Department prompted two investigations of Chase and the department.

One investigation found unsatisfactory leadership and management, dysfunctional interpersonal relations and a stressful office culture for employees.

The city issued Chase a written reprimand and returned him to his job in February. At least one officer quit the day Chase returned.

Chase has been working in Junction City since 2009. He previously worked at the Salem Police Department.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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