- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon attorney general’s office is investigating the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, but it won’t say why.

Department of Justice spokesman Michael Kron acknowledged Tuesday that there is an investigation, but he said he could not say what it was about or what prompted it.

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah issued a statement saying he was told by county personnel staff that a total of eight deputies - five of them patrol deputies - were on paid administrative leave, at least five of them from the patrol division, and that he was not consulted.

Skrah did not return calls earlier Tuesday from The Associated Press for more information.

Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said seven deputies had been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave at their request. Morris added that she could not discuss why.

“While the board of commissioners wants to be open with the public, there are just a lot of things legally we cannot comment on,” she said.

But Becky Gallagher, a Eugene lawyer who represents the Klamath County Peace Officers’ Association, said the state’s criminal investigation is directed at Skrah. Gallagher said the deputies’ union had gone to the county last week asking them to put the deputies on paid administrative leave.

“Deputies who asked to go on leave are all the ones interviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice as part of their criminal investigation of the sheriff,” Gallagher said.

Skrah also did not return a call and email for comment Tuesday evening from The Associated Press about Gallagher’s statements.

Gallagher said the reason for the leave has to do with “retaliation and workplace harassment by the sheriff.” The union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the county because of the sheriff’s actions, , Gallagher said.

According to that complaint, in May union president Corporal Daren Krag - one of the deputies who is on leave - sent an email to Skrah outlining union-related issues having to do with court security, body-armor vests, and Krag not being paid for overtime work.

In response, the complaint says, the sheriff changed Krag’s shift, cancelled his participation in some activities and declined to pay his overtime. The complaint, which was filed on May 21, also says Skrah issued a write-up to Krag for not completing an inventory memo on time.

According to the complaint, the above actions were taken by the sheriff to “chill, impede, retaliate and interfere” with the deputies’ union business and the work of its president.

Gallagher did not say why the other deputies were also on leave.

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