Sgt. Kyle Nice, subject of two investigations, back on street with Portland police

From the Oregonian, September 27, 2012

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese is returning Sgt. Kyle Nice, who has been working behind a desk following two police internal investigations, back to patrol duty.

Kyle Nice

Kyle Nice

Nice has been on desk duty while he faced internal investigations for his role in an off-duty road rage encounter and for his role in the controversial arrest of James P. Chasse Jr.

On Sept. 21, Central Precinct Cmdr. Bob Day sent a memo to his staff to inform them that Nice was returning to Central Precinct, the last street assignment he had before desk duty. Day wrote that he was looking forward to having Nice’s “knowledge and experience of downtown to draw upon.”

But Thursday, when asked why the chief had re-assigned Nice to Central Precinct, police bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said Nice is actually headed to East Precinct. Simpson said the change was made because there’s a greater need for sergeants in East Precinct.

“Sgt. Nice has been filling supervisory roles for the past two years in the Training Division, Emergency Management Unit and most recently the Personnel Division. With a number of openings in the Operations Branch, Sgt. Nice will be assigned to patrol at East Precinct,” Simpson said in an email.

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, said “Nice is a competent supervisor and Chief Reese understood that, and that’s why he’s going back to the street.”

In July, an arbitrator ordered the Police Bureau to dismiss the two-week suspension that Nice faced for his role in the arrest of Chasse, who died in police custody in September 2006.

Then-police commissioner Dan Saltzman ordered Nice suspended for two weeks for failing to insist that Chasse be taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police had stunned Chasse with a Taser, and the jail had refused to book him because of his physical condition. Nice also was cited for not briefing paramedics fully about the police struggle and use of the stun gun against Chasse.

The arbitrator ruled that the city failed to prove its charges, particularly because “competent medical personnel approved or directed the transportation of Mr. Chasse by police car.”

In an unrelated incident, Nice was found to have acted “inappropriately” in an off-duty Washington County traffic confrontation in April 2010. Simpson declined to say what discipline Nice faced for the off-duty encounter, calling it a “personnel matter.”

The bureau found Nice used profane language and should not have drawn his weapon during a traffic encounter with another motorist who said Nice flipped him off at a traffic light and later unholstered his gun. It was his personal firearm, a Springfield Armory TRP.

The other motorist, Neil Ruffin, sued Nice in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The lawsuit has been settled for an undisclosed amount, according to Ruffin’s attorney, Greg Kafoury. Nice’s attorney in the civil case could not be reached for comment.

In a deposition taken of Nice while Ruffin’s lawsuit was pending, Nice told Kafoury he was moved off the street to a desk job after the Ruffin encounter, “but I have not been told why.”

Nice said at the time he preferred street work. “I kind of miss working where I worked before,” he said. “The work they’ve given me to do is — engaging and interesting, but I’ve always been a patrol officer and that’s where I prefer to work.”