BEND, Ore. - Allegations dating from 2010 to 2016 have forced the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office to put deputy Eric Kozowski on paid administrative leave as an internal investigation is underway.
Captain Paul Garrison confirmed Thursday that Kozowski was put on leave on Sunday as the sheriff's office is investigating several allegations about the former candidate for sheriff. The investigation is being conducted by an outside agency.
According to a notice of claims sent to the sheriff's office by Kozowski's attorney, Michael McGean, in October 2016, allegations cited in the letter involved failure to take a report in September 2010; Kozowski allegedly violated policy in June 2016 by not arresting a wanted suspect; and Kozowski is being investigated for making statements to NewsChannel 21 about an investigation involving Lt. Tim Leak in May 2016, when Kozowski was running against incumbent Shane Nelson for sheriff.
McGean told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday his client has denied any wrongdoing.
We asked Garrison why Deputy Kozowski was put on paid leave now, since he has been working while being investigated since 2016.
"As it is a personnel matter, I'm limited with just exactly what I can discuss and what I'm able to say and what I'm unable to say," Garrison said. "At this point, the juncture that they are several internal affairs investigations that are ongoing, and at this point it was decided that was the thing to do."
The sheriff's office Office Policy for disciplinary action states members who are alleged to have violated policies should be suspended immediately, with pay.
The policy also states that the investigation must be wrapped up within a year of the date the deputy is first interviewed.
NewsChannel 21 did reach out to Kozowski and his attorney for a statement or comment, but was told they could not speak tabout specifics regarding the investigation because it's still underway.