The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Oregon officer comments on sheriff's campaign


October 4, 2018

To The Eagle:

I want to take this opportunity to address what I feel is misinformation being directed at Wahkiakum Sheriff's Office candidate Graham Phalen. That misinformation relates to allegations and inferences that Phalen, while employed as a lieutenant in the Professional Standards Unit of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office was somehow derelict in his duties in the tragic Jeff Grahn incident in Gresham, Ore., in 2010.

First, my name is Mark White and I am a retired Police Officer from the Portland Police Bureau. I have a total of over 33 years of law enforcement experience, including five years as a domestic violence specialist. I did not know Lt. Phalen at the time of the Grahn incident. I was however, familiar with Jeff and Charlotte Grahn. While not real close, I considered Jeff a friend. First off, among many of false rumors and misstatements of facts, the investigation into domestic violence in the Grahn household started nine months before the murders, and was conducted by the Domestic Violence Reduction Unit (DVRU) of the Portland Police Bureau (PBB). Immediately after allegations arose of domestic violence by Sgt. Grahn, the case was entirely handed over to Portland by Lt. Phalen's Professional Standards Unit for impartial investigation. CCSO had no involvement in that investigation. PPB concluded that there was no evidence of domestic violence because Charlotte Grahn steadfastly refused to cooperate.

Investigators did everything humanly possible to elicit crucial information from Charlotte, but tragically, and not uncommonly, she refused to disclose actionable information.

No one, not Graham Phalen, not the CCSO, not Portland Police investigators nor Jeff Grahn's friends, including myself,) could have realistically foreseen the horror that unfolded in Gresham in 2010.

Other false information being circulated about the Grahn incident is that Clackamas County paid out $8 million dollars in a civil suit against Phalen and Clackamas County. In actuality, a total of $1.5 million was paid to several different parties to settle the suit, and attempt to bring closure to grieving families.

After retiring from the PBB in 2009, I was hired by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office in 2010 as a detective in the Professional Standards Unit and met Phalen for the first time. During that employment, we were instrumental in the successful employment termination of several law enforcement officers. Phalen believes in holding police officers accountable, and it was an honor to be supervised by him. In fact, I don't think that in my 33 years as a cop, I've ever had a more principled, more honest or smarter boss. His ethics and moral compass is unsurpassed.

For those out there that would suggest that Phalen is, in any way, responsible for the Grahn incident, or in any way negligent in the incident, are at best disingenuous, at worst simply lying as part of a dirty-smear campaign. If they are cops, or if cops are behind this smear, they are unworthy to wear the badge.

It is also important to note that Phalen, as a current employee of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, can not, by state law and internal CCSO policy, defend himself in matters like this. He is not allowed to comment directly on past investigations. It is obvious that Phalen's opposition in this election is well aware that he can't easily defend himself from slanderous attacks. And Phalen, by his very nature, is incapable of running anything but an honest and polite campaign. The citizens of your county would be lucky to have this man as your sheriff.

Mark White

Bend, Ore.


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