CLACKAMAS COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A Clackamas County deputy has been placed on administrative leave for “inappropriate statements” made while on duty that were caught on camera.
The sheriff’s office addressed the situation Saturday, saying they were made aware of the comments Friday night by a patrol deputy while he was on duty and in uniform.
The deputy, at the time of his comments, was tasked with notifying people about the wildfire hazards in Clackamas County, where there are widespread evacuation orders at levels 1 (be ready), 2 (be set) and 3 (go now).
“It appears the deputy was aware he made these comments while on video,” according to the sheriff’s office.
The video has been posted on YouTube and shared on social media. The sheriff’s office confirmed the deputy in the video is Deputy Mark Nikolai. In the video, Nikolai speaks to a person recording him and says he is worried about people “stashing stuff” with regard to possible intentionally set fires. He also asks the person recording the video if he can get any “intel” to let him know, before using profanity to describe Antifa.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office has previously addressed “online rumors” and “the spread of misinformation” regarding the fires.
Oregon sheriffs, police and the FBI have repeatedly squashed rumors of the wildfires being caused by a coordinated group of arsonists. The FBI said, in part, “With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue. Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”
Nikolai has been placed on administrative leave while the professional standards unit investigates “this potential violation of policy.”
"As soon as I was made aware of this incident, I moved swiftly to place this deputy on leave while we investigate. The Sheriff's Office mission is to provide calm and safety especially during unprecedented times such as these. I expect nothing less of our deputies, and apologize to all in our community,” said Sheriff Craig Roberts.
The Clackamas County Peace Offices Association released a statement Saturday saying, in part, "This morning, a video from a few days ago surfaced in which one of our deputies is heard speaking freely with a community member about the community’s understandable fear of looting and other criminal acts as our County burns. A full and fair investigation will be conducted by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to understand the deputy’s mindset when he made his comments. But let’s not get distracted by a single, sensationalized, five-minute video of one of the hundreds of first responders working around the clock in our County. We need to fight the actual fires that are burning in our County. Let’s not stoke unnecessary flames."
The association is the he labor organization for deputies, detectives, sergeants and other sheriff's office employees.
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