Pilot Rock City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to fire Gary Thompson from the police department effective immediately. The city now has no police force of its own.

Thompson, moments after the meeting, said he was awash in emotions but had done what he could to prepare for the moment.

Thompson, 43, was Pilot Rock’s lone state-certified officer and worked for the city since early 2015. The city suspended him Oct. 30, and Tuesday the council held a special meeting at 6 p.m. to consider disciplining Thompson.

Thompson elected that the meeting be in executive session. That bars most members of the public while usually allowing reporters, though the law limits reporting to the general nature of the meeting.

Thompson gave an opening statement, then Councilmen Bob Deno, Deacon Perkins and Ray Corwin questioned Thompson. Councilman James Hinkle had no questions for him, and neither did Mayor Virginia Carnes. Thompson left after about 40 minutes so the council could deliberate. Carnes reopened the meeting to the public at 6:57 p.m.

Deno moved to terminate Thompson, Perkins gave the second, and a moment later Thompson was out of a job.

Hinkle approached Thompson afterward, just outside the city hall door, shook his hand and thanked the former officer for his service.

Thompson contended he lost his job for making an unauthorized purchase. He said he owned up to not having the authority to place the order in question, and asserted in the meeting and afterward the city failed to provide him a proper-fitting $700 ballistic vest.

He also said Tuesday was the last day of his honeymoon, and he needed to return home to Pendleton to be with his new wife.

Pilot Rock’s other officer is Daniel Badal. He is attending the Oregon Public Safety Academy, Salem, to earn his basic police certification. If he passes, he will have to complete field training before he can work on his own.

Pilot Rock is relying on Pendleton to provide police coverage 40 hours per week. Pendleton police Cpl. Ryan M. Lehnert is handling the work. Porter explained that exceeds the $4,000-a-month deal for Pendleton to provide police oversight, so Pilot Rock is paying Lehnert’s hourly wages. Pendleton will keep him on its payroll, she stated, and bill Pilot Rock for the service.

The city also is going back to the drawing board again for a new police chief. Carnes and Porter said the city offered the job to John Price, who was with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in Washington, but he turned down the job after getting a new offer from Thurston County.


Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

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