Ridgefield to pay fired cop $200K

DON HAMILTON Columbian staff writer
February 16, 2008 

The city of Ridgefield has agreed to pay former police Sgt. Randy Ostrander $200,000 for wrongly firing him 18 months ago during a flurry of embarrassing revelations of city mismanagement. In the mediated settlement completed Friday, the city agreed to pay Ostrander for "emotional distress and damage to reputation." The agreement also reinstates Ostrander to his former post, although he will resign from the city Feb. 22, said his attorney, Gregory D. Ferguson.

The agreement also clears Ostrander's reputation before the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission, which certifies police officers, and allows him to resume his police career. Since leaving Ridgefield, Ostrander has been working as a long-haul trucker.

"I've been vindicated," Ostrander said Friday. "I'm relieved it's done and over with, and I'm looking forward to moving on to bigger and better things."
In August 2006, the department fired Ostrander, the department's second in command, claiming he'd altered police reports. Ostrander, who had been with the department for five years, said he accessed reports as part of his normal duties but never altered them.

He said the city fired him because he was trying to expose wrongdoing in city government, including the Ridgefield City Council and then-Mayor Gladys Doriot. Ostrander had been investigating the mayor's son, Orrin Doriot, who had a history of methamphetamine abuse and was living in a house owned by his mother.

In the settlement agreement, Ostrander agreed to drop his wrongful termination lawsuit against the city. The city agreed to amend the 2006 termination notice explaining why he was fired to the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission. In a letter dated Friday, Ridgefield City Manager Justin L. Clary told the commission, "Upon further review, the city of Ridgefield has determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the initial determination." Ostrander, Clary wrote, "did not engage in any disqualifying conduct."

Clary also wrote a letter of recommendation praising Ostrander's "loyal and dedicated service, especially in a time of turmoil." Clary could not be reached for comment Friday.

Ferguson said Ostrander's dismissal came during a time when the city suffered through a series of embarrassing revelations involving the police department, the city council and city officials. The city also faced a federal civil rights lawsuit and several independent investigations into police practices.
"Randy could have gone quietly but chose to stand and fight," Ferguson said. "When all the evidence came out, however, I think the city took a long, hard look and chose to do the right thing. The present city leaders should be commended."

From 1999 to 2001, Ostrander spent 18 months working as a security officer in Kosovo for Dyna Corp., a private company operating under a State Department contract. He said he might eventually return to international law enforcement.

This story was posted at 2:42 p.m. Friday at www.columbian.com
To view settlement documents in the case, go to www.columbian.com
Don Hamilton can be reached at 360/735-4526 and don.hamilton@columbian.com