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Gresham police chief resigns a week after public release of investigation

It’s the second time in eight months that Robin Sells has quit the chief position. A third-party investigation concluded she undermined a colleague.
Credit: City of Gresham
Robin Sells

GRESHAM, Ore. — Robin Sells resigned as Gresham police chief Friday, a little more than a week after the public release of a third-party investigation into allegations of misconduct that concluded Sells undermined a colleague who developed police reform plans that were never fully implemented. In her resignation letter, Sells said she did not resign voluntarily.

"Let me be clear, I am not resigning voluntarily, but as a direct result of the city’s choice to release a deeply flawed report without affording me due process," Sells said.

Read the full resignation letter

It’s the second time in eight months that Sells has quit the chief position. After announcing in June 2020 that she was retiring, she revoked her retirement agreement and returned as chief at the end of the month.

During that same month, Gresham Deputy City Manager Corey Falls, a Black man, filed a formal complaint against Sells and the now-former city manager, alleging violations of the city’s anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation policy. Sells filed her own complaints against Falls and other people previously employed in the city manager’s office. Falls and Sells had previously worked together in the Gresham Police Department.

The City of Gresham hired Paula Barran, partner at Barran Liebman LLP, to investigate. In her investigation, Barran said Falls’ claims were substantiated and Sells’ claims were not.

“Mr. Falls was undermined, passively and actively, by individuals within the Police Department and by Chief Sells who failed to adhere to the chain of command and who permitted a culture of disrespect,” Barran wrote in the report.

Link to the investigation report

Also in June of last year, Falls sent an internal letter to his colleagues, saying, “My reception into the city of Gresham has been at best dismal... It was very clear to me that those in [leadership] were not going to accept or support a Black man in a leadership position.”

The allegations came amid widespread protests across the country, and the Portland metro area, calling for an end to systemic racism and racial injustice.

Capt. Claudio Grandjean, who has spent 34 years with Gresham police, will serve as acting head of police.