King City's council ousts police chief

The dismissal comes in the wake of a state investigation of his arrests and use of aliases


KING CITY -- The City Council fired Police Chief Jim Brooks on Tuesday, two weeks after a state investigation revealed his use of multiple names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, and past arrests on weapons and forgery charges.

The decision on the elusive chief, who hasn't reported to work or been seen by any city officials for more than two weeks, came as no surprise.

City councilors have suggested Brooks would be fired since Feb. 27 when a state investigator presented a personal history for Brooks that meandered through more than 30 years of job firings, fake names and criminal charges.

Lawyers representing Brooks called the state investigation a "witch hunt," saying Brooks' past didn't reflect on his work in King City.

Until recently, the chief received the support of the city's leaders. Jan Drangsholt, mayor of the city of 2,000 west of Tigard along Oregon 99W, said Brooks had been a good police chief.

But by Tuesday, his termination was unavoidable. "I think it was sad but necessary," Drangsholt said.

The firing took effect immediately and offered Brooks no severance pay.

When the end came Tuesday, the only voices heard for Brooks were from his lawyers. The chief was, as has become usual, absent.

Daniel C. Lorenz, a lawyer, said the chief has been on sick leave since Feb. 27. He said Brooks is suffering from stress and plans to use nearly three months of sick leave he has amassed.

Paul C. Esmer, King City's attorney, disagree. He said Brooks was placed on paid leave Feb. 28 and ordered to turn in his police car and other equipment.

Brooks joined the King City police force as a volunteer officer in 1995 and moved through the ranks. He was promoted to police chief in June 2000.

In August, Washington County Sheriff Jim Spinden and Tigard Police Chief Ron Goodpaster complained about the training and professionalism of the King City force. They limited the circumstances in which their officers would help King City officers.

Two momths later, the Oregon Department of Justice and Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, the agency that certifies police officers, opened an investigation of Brooks. The inquiry was prompted by questions from The Oregonian.

The five-month investigation showed that Brooks, 56, has used 12 variations of his name, six birth dates, nine Social Security numbers and five birthplaces.

The report also showed that Brooks bought property he lives on near Sherwood under a fake name and that he was arrested in Oregon, Wyoming and California on weapons and forgery charges.

A state committee of police officers, sheriffs and rank-and-file officers voted that Brooks should lose his police certification.

In a March 8 letter, William Aring Meyer, a Portland lawyer, responded to the state report: "The Department of Justice memorandum is inaccurate and commits numerous, basic logical errors and misrepresentations."

Lorenz wrote a more detailed four-page letter dated March 11: "The witch hunt by the state focuses on information 20 and 30 years old which has no relevance to Mr. Brooks' current qualification as a police officer."

For the first time, Lorenz specifically challenged facts from the state's investigation:

Lorenz was present at the meeting Tuesday in which the city depated Brooks' fate during an hour-long executive session closed to the public.

The City Council had several options, including keeping Brooks, or firing him and paying a severance package. "I felt that the final decision was the right one," City Councilor Gerry McReynolds said.

The council's decision has no effect on the state's pending review of Brooks' certification as a police officer. A second state public safety board is scheduled to make a final ruling on Brooks' certification in April. That board would need a two-thirds majority vote to overrule the last month's police committee decision.

The city, however, is ready to move forward.

Elsner, whose law firm is acting as city manager pro tem, said he planned to interview former Polk County Undersheriff Gary K. David today as a temporary replacement.

After Tuesday's vote, City Council President Bud Wilkinson said, "I'm glad that it's over."


You can reach Emily Tsao at 503-294-5968 or at or Ryan Frank at 503-294-5955 or by e-mail at
Former King City Police Chief Jim Brooks has been stripped of his police certification.
Former King City Police Chief Jim Brooks says he will sue the city if he does not get his job back.