Lawyers: Recently retired North Bend Police officials lost confidence in city administrator, council

NORTH BEND, Ore. – Lawyers for the recently retired North Bend Police Chief and Captain sent a statement to media outlets Wednesday, after articles appeared online after their retirement announcement.

The statement says Chief Robert Kappelman and Captain Curt Bennett retired due to their loss of confidence in City Administrator David Milliron, as well as the City Council. Since Milliron’s time at the City of North Bend, the former officers say Milliron’s behavior was ‘increasingly bizarre and abusive’. His actions, the letter says, toward Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett were ‘inappropriate’. Their lawyers add that a formal personnel complaint was filed against Milliron in June due to his inappropriate behavior.

By late August, Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett said they informed the City of various issues within the police department.  However, they say no actions were taken. Instead, the City Council voted on a “360-degree operational assessment of the police department.” In their statement, they said the assessment can only be perceived as retaliation against the entire department and its administration.

Former Chief Robert Kappelman

Former Captain Curt Bennett

The City of North Bend post a letter on its website, that has since been taken down, calling the retirement of the two former officers’ ‘abrupt’. Their lawyers say, “Authorizing this post demonstrates the City’s support for David Milliron’s characterization that the retirements were, in fact, ‘abrupt’ as well as support for the insinuation that the retirements are related to the City’s proposed “360-degree operational assessment of the police department”.

Below is the full statement from former Chief Kappelman and former Captain Bennett.

It is time for the City of North Bend (City) to be fully transparent and honest with its citizens.
This joint statement is in response to recent news articles regarding the retirements of our clients, Chief Robert Kappelman and Captain Curt Bennett.
Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett retired due to their loss of confidence in City Administrator David Milliron and the City Council, plain and simple.
Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett endured a year of David Milliron’s increasingly bizarre and abusive behavior, culminating in his inappropriate interjection into a quadruple homicide case in June of 2021.
A formal personnel complaint was filed against David Milliron in June for his inappropriate conduct. The North Bend Police Officers’ Association issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in David Milliron to Mayor Jessica Engelke several weeks later. In late August, Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett informed the City and its insurer of multiple concerns within the police department related to underfunding, micromanagement, understaffing, and overtime which needed immediate attention.
The City failed to act on any of these concerns. The City Council failed to act on the personnel complaint against David Milliron. The City failed to address the vote of no confidence letter. The City failed to act on the immediate concerns raised by their police administration in a formal letter to the City’s attorneys and insurer. The City failed to publicly print the last three reports to the City Administrator raising concerns of overworked staff.
Once it was clear that the City was going to take no action on any of their police administration’s concerns, Chief Kappelman asked for a separation of employment from the City. Once again, the City failed to act and did not communicate with Kappelman for over three weeks on that request. The City’s only action was to order a “360-degree review” which can only be perceived as retaliation against the entire department and its administration.
The City’s characterization of the “abrupt” retirement of two decorated police command staff with nearly sixty years of unblemished faithful service is nothing short of shameful. The North Bend Police Department under the direction of these two police administrators flourished. Twice the department won statewide recognition for their exemplary work. The compassion of their staff was shared worldwide. Under a combined eight years of oversight, the department was not named in a single tort claim. Chief Kappelman and Captain Bennett should be honored in their retirements for their work and dedication to the NBPD and to the City of North Bend.

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