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News / Clark County News

Vancouver Police Department investigation finds Rey Reynolds violated policies

Agency investigated 4 complaints against former sheriff candidate

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: August 3, 2023, 6:05am

Recently released documents shed light on the Vancouver Police Department policies that internal affairs investigators found Cpl. Rey Reynolds violated during and after his 2022 campaign for Clark County sheriff.

The department investigated four complaints against Reynolds, 64, since September. Of those, one remained active at the time of his June 29 retirement, while the other three were closed. The Columbian obtained the closed investigations, along with others since the beginning of 2022, through a public records request. The records included 1,600 pages of documents, 37 audio files and one video. The documents show Reynolds signed letters of discipline in several of the investigations in the days leading up to his retirement.

Reynolds declined to comment on his retirement or the investigations. He served 24 years with Vancouver police.

Two of the investigations were linked to comments Reynolds made during his campaign, and the department found he violated policy in each of the cases, the records show. In a Sept. 8 case, investigators said the fact Reynolds identified himself as a Vancouver police officer while promoting a “Constitutional Sheriff” platform during campaign appearances demonstrated a disregard for the law and damaged the department’s reputation.

Podcast appearance

The most egregious of the incidents investigated, with the probe opened Oct. 24, stemmed from an appearance he made Sept. 24 as a sheriff’s candidate on an online Christian political show, “Cross Politic.” During the appearance, he was asked if there’s anything the sheriff can do under obscenity laws to regulate “the current trans(gender) push.”

In response, Reynolds noted the state’s indecent liberties statute.

“We do have those laws — exposure laws, indecent liberties, all of those things are laws that we have on the books right now that can be prosecuted. And we can arrest on those things,” Reynolds said during the show. “And we need to get back to where we used to arrest people for running around naked and doing sexual acts. Now, we have parades where they’re allowed to do it. And they’re not being arrested. They’re only being encouraged in many cases.”

One of the hosts asked Reynolds if that conduct was occurring in Vancouver. Reynolds responded, “That has happened. Unfortunately, it has.”

Reynolds told the hosts he was a police officer when that happened, and one of the hosts asked him if he was allowed to do anything about it.

“As an officer, yes I was. Could we? Yes. Did we? No. And that’s what’s important because right now, some of these laws that we have are not being enforced,” Reynolds said. “Can we get them prosecuted is some of the issue. Can we prosecute these crimes? If we arrest, and the sheriff’s office arrests for these indecent exposures — the coming before our children with sexual acts — and we arrest for it, will the prosecuting attorney then go ahead and prosecute those cases? Right now, there’s a doubt in my mind.”

But, when the internal affairs investigators asked Reynolds what parade he was referring to in Vancouver, Reynolds said he was actually talking about photos he’d seen from a parade in Portland. He admitted he doesn’t have police authority in Portland, records show.

Reynolds continued to assert to investigators that he was speaking during the podcast as a sheriff’s candidate, not as a Vancouver police officer. However, he did concede in interviews he could have made the distinction clearer. He also said the questions were coming quickly during a political event, according to the investigation.

In a written response to investigators, Reynolds said he did not understand why he was compelled to answer questions about his political activities.

“These continuing interviews and investigative extensions have become punitive and have caused a great deal of stress, loss of reputation and violates the contract” surrounding political activities and freedom of speech, he wrote.

Investigators found that Reynolds did not state he was speaking strictly as a candidate and not as an officer during the podcast, records show.

“As there was no clear delineation or bright line created between your statements and the department or city, several of the comments made by you in the podcast misrepresented the department, its policies and its views,” the findings letter states.

Investigators also found Reynolds violated a policy covering professional conduct and accountability and responsibility. They said Reynolds lied during their interviews when he said he never identified himself as a Vancouver police officer during his campaign for sheriff. Reynolds later claimed he did so as a part of his resume during his campaign but was never speaking on behalf of the agency, according to the investigation.

Investigators issued Reynolds the findings letter in this investigation June 19. However, discipline was not imposed because of Reynolds’ retirement. The findings letter states one of the policy violations carried a discipline range of corrective action, or counseling, to a one-day suspension, while the other two violations carried a range of a written reprimand to a three-day suspension.

In a separate investigation opened in response to a prior, Sept. 29 complaint about Reynolds’ comments during the podcast, internal affairs investigators did not find he violated department policy. That investigation was closed prior to the Oct. 24 investigation, records show.

December leave and incident

Two separate internal affairs investigations were opened Dec. 20, and Reynolds was placed on leave the next day.

One appears to remain open, while the other is closed. Investigators in the closed case found he violated the department’s standards of conduct policy.

The two December investigations, combined with the investigations about comments made during his unsuccessful political campaign, made for four total active investigations when he was placed on leave, according to police spokeswoman Kim Kapp.

The closed Dec. 20 investigation stemmed from an argument at a rifle certification training. Reynolds arrived at the training that day, but he was not enrolled in the class. The officer leading the training told him he could not participate and needed to return for the class the following day. The officer said Reynolds raised his voice and became upset. He said Reynolds was swearing, and they took the conversation to the Training Unit office, where another corporal was a witness, the investigation states.

Once in the office, the officer and corporal said Reynolds continued to get more upset and continued to swear. At one point, they said Reynolds picked up a bamboo baton that was in the office, began swinging it around and brought it down on the other corporal’s desk. They said they did not feel threatened by Reynolds’ actions, but the officer said he began considering how he would subdue Reynolds if the situation continued to escalate, records show.

Eventually, the investigation states Reynolds calmed down and apologized. He later told investigators he thought he was being targeted because of the officers’ implicit bias but didn’t elaborate to investigators on what type of bias he perceived, according to the investigation.

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After the officer left the training office that day, the other corporal offered Reynolds a peer counseling session and asked if Reynolds was under stress. Reynolds wrote in his letter that he was under stress due to “multiple politically inspired Internal Affairs complaints.”

He was issued a written reprimand June 6. The letter of discipline states, “Your behavior and actions in this incident caused alarm and concern from two fellow officers, both of whom have extensive law enforcement, SWAT and high-stress incident experience.”

The file shows Reynolds signed the letter of discipline the day before his retirement.

Reynolds lost the sheriff’s race in the November general election to John Horch. Reynolds had previously unsuccessfully run for state Senate in 2020.

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