Controversial former Portland cop Chris Humphreys elected Wheeler County Sheriff

From The Oregonian, November 7, 2012

Chris Humphreys, the Portland police officer who faced public scrutiny for two separate on-the-job incidents in 2006 and 2009, and also gained notoriety for his involvement in the city’s most expensive settlement in recent history, was elected Tuesday as the Wheeler County Sheriff.

Chris Humphreys, Sheriff of Wheeler County, Oregon

Chris Humphreys, Sheriff of Wheeler County, Oregon

Wheeler County elections clerk Barbara Sitton said unofficial results show Humphreys garnered 453 of the 824 votes cast. Write-in candidates received 372 votes, with most of them going to chief deputy Mike Garibay. Because he lacked the requisite length of experience in law enforcement to qualify for the ballot, Garibay had to run as a write-in, officials said.

Humphreys replaces Sheriff Bob Hudspeth. The job pays $46,463 a year based on an hourly salary of $22.34, Sitton said. He will be sworn in on January 2.

“It was a long, hard campaign, but I guess nothing comes easy,” Humphreys said. “But I’m very, very happy.”

The sheriff’s office has three full time positions, a sheriff and two deputies. Emergency calls for the rural Northeastern Oregon county are dispatched through Gilliam County. Wheeler County’s population is approximately 1,500, Sitton said. The town of Fossil is the county seat.

Humphreys, 37, worked as a Wheeler County sheriff’s deputy for three years before joining Portland police in February 1999, where he was an officer for 11 years. He was the first to file paperwork on Feb. 10 for the position of Wheeler County sheriff.

On his website, Humphreys said he grew up in Spray, graduating from Spray High School and marrying his high school sweetheart. In 2005, his brother Paul, a deputy sheriff, was killed in a car crash.

He was medically laid off from the Portland Police Bureau Nov. 23, 2010, because of the length of time he was off work collecting disability payments – a move the city is taking more often to ensure officers or firefighters on long-term disability don’t remain on city staffing rolls forever.

Yet, as allowed, he continued to receive disability checks, recently collecting monthly checks of $1,546.86. Humphreys retired for medical reasons from the Portland police last year, according to a police department spokesman.

But as of April 7, Humphreys “no longer meets the eligibility criteria” for disability benefits after a medical report confirmed he’s “now able to perform the required duties of his job,” according to Portland’s public safety fund.

“I’m more than capable of being an officer, but I do not want to be an officer in Portland,” Humphreys told The Oregonian in April.

Humphreys was at the center of the city’s most expensive settlement in recent history after a mentally ill man, James Chasse Jr., died in police custody in 2006, after he suffered numerous injuries after being tackled by officers. The case ended in 2010, when the city agreed to pay Chasse’s estate $1.6 million.

Humphreys again faced scrutiny in 2009, when he shot a 12-year-old girl in the leg at close range with a beanbag gun after she punched another officer in the face. He was suspended during the department’s investigation but was cleared of wrongdoing.