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Kershaw resigns post; sheriff takes control

Staff reports

PHOENIX &

Following an arrest Tuesday on felony tampering and forgery charges, Phoenix Chief of Police Robert Kershaw resigned Wednesday.

Phoenix Mayor Vicki Bear accepted Kershaw&

s letter of resignation ending the chief&

s 12-year tenure at the helm of the city&

s police force. Bear expressed confidence that she and the city council would pick up the pieces from the surprising developments.

&

I am extremely shocked and I&

m sure the citizens are as well,&

she said. &

We are going to do everything to our ability to ensure that we can provide services for them.&

Effective immediately, the Jackson County Sheriff&

s Department will take over day-to-day operations over to the Phoenix police department, following a unanimous vote of approval by the city council.

Kershaw&

s fate now rests in the hands of the Oregon Department of Justice. Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston referred the case Wednesday. Department of Justice officials within the agency had yet to determine if an indictment against Kershaw will be handed down.

&

We&

re going to see where it goes,&

said Department of Justice spokesman Kevin Neely. &

It may see a resolution short of an indictment, such as a pre-indictment plea agreement...which happens all the time.&

Kershaw, 65, was arrested Tuesday on charges of first-degree forgery, hindering prosecution, first-degree official misconduct, tampering with physical evidence and tampering with public records. The charges stemmed from his alleged attempt to cover-up criminal charges against his son. He was released on bail Tuesday night.

The case began on Jan. 27 when a Phoenix officer was called to Kershaw&

s home in the 4300 block of Dark Hollow Road to help Talent police search for a missing juvenile believed to be at the residence.

When officers arrived they found Andrew Kershaw, the chief&

s son and a Phoenix police community service officer, and Steven Odom, a Phoenix reserve officer, allegedly partying with several minors. The evening&

s festivities included marijuana and alcohol, according to Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

Kershaw decided to take the lead in the investigation, despite efforts from Talent Police Chief Bob Rector to persuade him to turn the case over to the sheriff&

s department.

Winters was made aware of the situation a week later and asked sheriff&

s Capt. Rod Countryman to contact Kershaw and convince him to direct the investigation to an outside agency.

According to Winters, Kershaw reluctantly turned the case over to sheriff&

s detectives on Feb. 8. They soon discovered the reports given to them were not the ones made by the initial investigating officer.

Kershaw allegedly made changes to the original report by deleting portions of the narrative implicating his son in criminal activity. Also missing was a written statement made by a witness at the Kershaw home that night, officials said.

Winters and his detectives met with Bear and the Phoenix City Council on Monday, where it was decided that Kershaw be suspended.

Kershaw was called to meet with the mayor at Phoenix City Hall Tuesday evening, where he was taken into custody by sheriff&

s deputies.

The case against Andrew Kershaw and Odom is ongoing. Winters said no arrests have been made, and neither man has been charged with any wrongdoing.