Cop's Wrong Firing Lawsuit Leads To Public Release Of Vulgarly-Titled 'Enemies' List

from the non-denial-denials-follow dept

Among the many things Richard Nixon was infamous for, his “Enemies List” stands out for the sheer pettiness involved. The most powerful man in the free world took time out of his schedule to compose a running tab of everyone who had ever slighted him. Without a doubt, the world is full of such pettiness, but most of it remains unexposed, or deployed by people the public could not care less about.

A former campus cop for the University of Oregon (now a court clerk) has sued the school for wrongful termination, something he claims was the result of retaliatory actions by his UOPD (University of Oregon Police Dept.) supervisors. The list of allegations is long and detailed, but much of the friction seems to track back to an (allegedly) oft-discussed “enemies” list maintained by one UOPD officer that (again, allegedly) contained a number of people, ideas and entities that these officers felt should “eat a bowl of dicks.”

The names and terms on the list – which range from politicians to famous personas such as Chelsea Handler and even particular crowds such as “mouth breathers” – were put there when UOPD officers disliked them for one reason or another. In the opinion of the officers, those referred to on the list were entitled to “eat a bowl of dicks,” according to the lawsuit.

[James] Cleavenger is a graduate of UO Law and currently works as a clerk at the Eugene federal court. In his lawsuit, he said that the list was assembled during night shifts and that several officers contributed. The list was kept on Officer Eric LeRoy’s cell phone and, according to the lawsuit, the list was a constant topic and debated over during work hours.

That this sort of behavior occurs is no surprise. In the “us vs. them” environment of law enforcement, it’s almost expected. But it’s rarely admitted to and even more rarely exposed in such a public fashion. Cleavenger alleges that the defendants discussed this list during briefings and many other times during the course of the shift and, most worryingly, that the list contained names of University of Oregon staff and administration.

Rather than the expected denial, the defendants openly admitted (in their filed response to the allegations) the list exists, although they claim it wasn’t discussed quite as frequently as Cleavenger alleges and doesn’t contain the names of people these officers worked for (and in conjunction with).

[…] admit that there were remarks made about a bowl of dicks list but deny such remarks were made during “many” briefings; and admit the referenced list was and is maintained on Leroy’s cell phone. The remaining allegations of paragraph 20 are denied.

In response to paragraph 21, Defendants admit the list identified in paragraph 20 contained dozens of entries; admit O.J. Simpson, Oprah Winfrey and Hilary Clinton were and are on this list; admit Plaintiff alleges he does not have a copy of the list; and admit officers will confirm the existence of the list.

Despite the defendants stating in a legal filing that the list was referred to as the “bowl of dicks” list, a statement from the chief of the UOPD denied the phone-contained list was referred to by that name.

“The list was not meant maliciously, it was not labeled with the vulgarity referred to in the court complaint, and was not a collection of ‘enemies,’” said UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed.

But it was labeled that way, and the defendants are on record saying so. The allegations in Cleavenger’s complaint note that the list was a “work in progress and constantly updated,” a detail that caught the eye of the UO Matters blog. It issued a public records request for the “bowl of dicks” list and received its own version, albeit one that now contains redactions.

And, note that the court complaint explains that the “eat a bowl …” list was a work in progress that was frequently updated, debated, and discussed. So why does UO only provide one version, and act as if it’s the only one? Here’s UO’s response to my request for “any public records that list the members of the “Bowl of Dicks” list kept by UOPD employee Eric LeRoy.”:

On FridayJul 11, 2014, at 10:22 AM, Office of Public Records <> wrote:

“… The attached list is responsive to your request. It is a list of names that was maintained on a UOPD officer’s phone as referenced in a pending litigation.

Thank you for contacting the office with your request.”

Every other public records response from UO includes this boiler-plate:

“The office considers these documents to be fully responsive to your request, and will now close your matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.”

Why did they leave it out this time? Because they’ve got more lists?

There are two names redacted in the UO matters version, both of whom are former Oregon football players.

Cliff Harris
Alejandro Maldonado

Apparently, this information wasn’t deemed sensitive enough to redact from the UOPD’s version of the definitely-not-a-“bowl-of-dicks” list. What’s not contained in these documents are Cleavenger’s more serious allegations: that University of Oregon staff were included in the extensive compilation.

What it does look like is a list of annoyances, running from A-, B- and C-list celebrities (Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Gary Busey) to stuff that generally annoys a large subsection of the public (mouth breathers, fraternities, Comcast, Windows Vista). In fact, for the most part, this is probably one of the least controversial “hate” lists to ever be outed. Osama bin Laden makes the list. So does David Hasselhoff. And Adobe Acrobat.

One of the stranger inclusions is “ORS 352.385,” the state statute that provides for the creation and funding of university police departments. Were these campus cops suffering from a bit of self-hatred? Maybe they didn’t see themselves as “real” cops and felt that they shouldn’t be expected to do much more than hole up in the office and compile a list of eminently hateable entities.

So… tempest in a dickbowl? Possibly, but there are still unanswered questions as to whether the list(s) that have been made public were edited by Officer Eric LeRoy before turning it over to authorities. If these officers were including campus staff on its enemies list, that’s definitely a cause for concern, especially if it prompted any sort of harassment under the color of law.

But at this point, there’s no indication this was much more than a crude inside joke for UOPD officers, albeit one that apparently consumed a great deal of each workday.

The university has gone on the defensive, however, which indicates there may be something to Cleavenger’s allegations.

“A recent story with information about a legal matter involving a former employee of the University of Oregon Police Department focused primarily on the unproven allegations of the former public safety officer and did not provide the university’s responses to the courts or the newspaper reporter,” said the university.

The “blame the press” approach — one that nearly universally goes terribly but is almost always the first reaction to negative attention. But, considering the following was the initial response, what did the university PD expect?

UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed declined this week to comment on Cleavenger’s firing, saying that the university “does not comment on pending litigation.”

Now, the press is focusing on the fact that the UOPD not only admitted its officers compiled an enemies list, but that it also attached a vulgar name to said list. The official denial by Chief McDermed says otherwise, but one would think that the legal document filed in response to Cleavenger’s allegations is the more trustworthy version. And that version clearly says the list was referred to as the “bowl of dicks” list.

Police officers should know better than anyone else how much evidence a cell phone can store. It’s one thing to be obnoxious behind closed doors during long, boring night shifts. It’s quite another to (allegedly) hassle an officer out of a job because he disagreed with the contents of a vulgarly-named list and the amount of time being spent keeping such a non-essential item updated.

This list doesn’t seem to indicate these officers’ attitude towards the general public was less healthy than any other person’s. In fact, in its own perverse way, it somewhat humanizes these public servants. I mean, who doesn’t hate Vista and Acrobat? But if further versions come to light — ones that show the police were adding staff or students to this obviously negative list — then it’s likely the surface indicator of something uglier lying underneath.

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Comments on “Cop's Wrong Firing Lawsuit Leads To Public Release Of Vulgarly-Titled 'Enemies' List”

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Anonymouse says:

“But if further versions come to light — ones that show the police were adding staff or students to this obviously negative list — then it’s likely the surface indicator of something uglier lying underneath.”

Really? Something uglier? Like maybe public servants disliking being treated like garbage by self-entitled teaching staff or uppity little football players who think they are stars and above the law? Gimme a break, this is a non-story. The retaliation part MIGHT be a story, but a group of people in a public (customer) service position blowing off steam by making a list of “most (insert your favorite verb) customers” is not a story, even if they are cops and i am a little offended you seem to think it is.

This is not a scandal. You treat people like crap and this is what they do instead of, oh i don’t know, punching you in the face.

All that said…the administration of the school and the PD are both way out of bounds here and trying to spin this as hard as they can it is the wrong move. They are playing into the hands of the guy suing them, who is pretty much stressing this point as absolutely hard as he can in an effort to give the school, the PD and his former supervisors and fellow officers a big black eye in the hopes it’ll result in a large and fast settlement. The more coverage this gets the faster he’ll get it too.

What they should be doing is telling people exactly what it is, that it is normal in any service position for people to do something like this. They are investigating if this was something that was taking up department resources and time blah blah blah. Whitewash the shit out of it instead of playing the blame game. Just like celebrities, accept the blame, apologize, and move on like nothing happened, and soon enough everyone forgets it happened.

Vel the Enigmatic says:

Re: Re:

I honestly think you’re being far too naive.

With all the stories flowing around of cops running about and doing horrible things, including a recent one where an NYPD officer chokeheld a 400 man to death, and cops going around shooting people who in any other situation would be barely any, if no threat at all to them whatsoever due to their training.

You want to know why cops get no respect? Cause being a police officer used to mean something good. Now it’s got an increasingly negative connotation to it, and with stories of bad cops doing bad things, and never having to actually pay the appropriate consequences for their actions. This is why cops are feared instead of respected now: they can do something as horrible as murdering someone who was no immediate threat to them, and they can literally get away with it. None of them will see time for killing an unarmed man even as the case of the NYPD officer choking said 400 man to death shows.

Cops are basically padded against the law they are supposed to be upholding, and the lack of harsh punishment gives them incentive to act horribly and abuse their power.

I feel terribly for the good cops whose names get dragged through the mud via association because of these things, but sadly, this is the truth of the matter and that is how it is going to stay until forceful reform is created.

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right, it’s not really much of a story. What there is of it is, however, funny as a bowl of fucks, so I’m all for it.

It’s also a surprisingly effective ad for the police – if they turn out to have been harassing disliked members of staff, or something, I’ll have a different view, but on the face of things now, I quite like these guys. I’m not really sure why they got in trouble over this. It seems undeserved.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It seems to be a ‘the coverup in worse than the crime’ situation.

Had they just owned up to it when it was brought up(‘Yes there is a list of disliked people floating around that our employees like to discuss in their breaks, and here it is’), it would have already blown over. By trying to hide it or deflect attention away from it, they turned a mild, likely harmless situation into a more serious one by making it seem suspicious, as though it was more serious than it likely is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Since this has escaped your attention, let me point this out explicitly: these are POLICE OFFICERS, who are authorized to use force — including deadly force — and who are expected to display professional conduct at all times.

Including when they’re treated very badly, ESPECIALLY when they’re treated very badly. If a student walks up to one of them and says “You’re a cocksucking nigger pig, asshole!” or “You’re a honky motherfucking douchebag!” then the only acceptable reaction is to stand there and take it, because of course while this is all vile, racist, immature and assinine, it’s inconsequential. Anyone who can’t do that is simply lacking the courage, self-control, and emotional stability to be a police officer: they are inferior and unworthy.

Yes, that’s asking a lot. But nobody MADE these people choose to be police officers: they signed on for it. They thus signed on to be public servants, and well, servants have to put up with a lot of shit. If they don’t like it or are too weak and cowardly to handle it, then they should resign immediately. But otherwise, yes, I fully expect them to handle the verbal abuse, namecalling, insults, non-cooperation, and everything else in a professional manner at all times.

Anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, you are missing the point. They are still human. Just like you and me. Sorry to burst your little bubble but they are just human, no better or worse than you or I. This was done in private. Among other officers. Not publicly. Thus it is them blowing off steam so they can remain professional out in the field.

To address another responder who says this is why police of all stripe have a bad name and no respect cause they are feared for strangling a 400lb man yadda yadda yadda… No.

That is the Media’s fault. Cops do their jobs every single day the way they are supposed to do them. Cops go above and beyond every single day to insure public safety. Media needs eyes, needs sensationalism, needs to push viewership through the roof. And sensationalizing bad cops is incredibly easy. So yes, that’s what they focus on. They demonize the police, not that these kinds of stories are not horrible and the cops responsible for them shouldn’t be not only fired but imprisoned for these kinds of actions, but the media is responsible for the public fearing police, and the police fearing the public. They know damned well that every single story about a bad cop makes their job harder.

They still do their jobs. I admire them for that. In the face of being the media’s favorite whipping boys, they still go out and do their jobs, every single day.

This site has even pointed this issue out, multiple times. Media coverage of “good” cops is almost nonexistent. So yes, you are right, there are bad cops out there. But they are not the majority. They are barely a minority. But they get all the media attention. If you think this is a true representation of reality, I want you to put down the lipgloss, have a sandwich, and realize that you are a pretty girl, and you do not have to try and look like a supermodel just to feel good about yourself.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“This was done in private. Among other officers. Not publicly.”

Yes, and so what? It indicates a mindset that is problematic.

“Thus it is them blowing off steam so they can remain professional out in the field.”

What? This makes no sense at all. Are you really saying that the police are so intrinsically unprofessional that they must act out one way or another, so better that they do this privately amongst themselves?

I’d also love to see the evidence that this helps them pretend to be professional on the job. I’m guessing that the people who engage in unprofessional behavior amongst themselves also engage in it amongst the public.

“That is the Media’s fault.”

I disagree, obviously. The fault for the police’ reputation is the police themselves.

“there are bad cops out there. But they are not the majority.”

I’m not so sure. Yes, the percentage of cops who engage in the overt misbehaviors are small, but the percentage of cops who turn a blind eye or even protect misbehaving cops is shockingly high — and both sorts of cops are “bad cops”.

My opinion about the police does not come from the media, by the way. It comes from watching the police in action over a large number of years, right in front of my eyes.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“there are bad cops out there. But they are not the majority.”

I actually agree with this statement, but it is still a total BS response. Any poorly behaving officers not immediately dealt with is a huge problem. I know quite a few good cops that not only behave with integrity in the face of some really crappy situations, but have and will report and (if necessary) shame other officers into doing the right thing.

I am quite certain that we are hearing about the fringe incidents. I am also quite certain that like shark attacks – incidents of police officers acting poorly are probably going down but we hear about them more because the national media coverage is much better these days.

Regardless, as citizens, we should be screaming about these incidents each and every time because that is the only way to reduce them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I know quite a few good cops that not only behave with integrity in the face of some really crappy situations, but have and will report and (if necessary) shame other officers into doing the right thing.”

I wish I knew quite a few cops like this. I know a couple, but they’re a pretty small minority. And I do personally know a lot of cops. Most of them aren’t abusive themselves, but certainly do turn a blind eye to the abusive ones (and often even speak supportingly of them in private).

But I should admit a regional bias here — I live in a state where all of the largest cities currently have their police forces under federal investigation because they’ve become so out of hand and abusive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ok, so you find that persons who have been put in positions of authority are exhibiting traits associated with mental illness – so you remove them from said position of authority. Seems like a reasonable thing to do, at least until they can be evaluated by a trained professional. If cities did this with their police forces …. yeah right, that will never happen.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Apt punishment

Since the officers seem to be inclined to waste work time, they should be forced to use 1 hour of their work time every day towards the following goal until completed:

Watch through all baywatch scenes containing David Hasselhoff, watch all Arnold Schwarzenegger movies after he was a governor, a twenty four hour Spongebob marathon, the OJ Simpson trial, twelve hours of Glee, four hours of Youtube ads (no actual videos), a nikki minaj cd, and six hours of other music from various “artists” on that list. All of this must be done by streamining the content over a Comcast network to a Windows Vista machine while wearing magnum condoms on their fingers.

If they are bored with work then they can spend more than one hour a day working on this task’s completion.

Nicholas Weaver (profile) says:

Ohh, icloud boyz-and-girlz...

Its “notes” on a iPhone. This can easily be set up to sync (and it complains when it doesn’t) through iCloud, plus you get multiple backups through iTunes.

As a consequence, the right discovery requests could possibly get the edit history of the “Eat a bowl…” list, not just the current state.

I hope the plaintiff’s lawyer is reading this…

Anonymous Coward says:

Our Sister Company has a List Like This.

It’s generally made up of people that do what they are supposed to do (report bugs in the software), but because they are so good at doing that job, they get cocky about reporting the bugs, and they get nit picky…which pisses the programmers off, so then the programmers start making decisions just to make the end user angry…….but I’m told that this is how business works.

I think it’s dumb, but that’s none of my business.

Tammy Simone Morris says:

Nixon's Enemies List

The misdeeds and flaws of public officials are often compared to the misdeeds and flaws of Richard Nixon. In this article it’s Nixon’s “Enemies List”. “Nixon’s Secret”, the new book by Nixon political operative and NY Times bestselling author, Roger Stone, reveals much more on Nixon than the news media ever told: that Nixon knew who really killed JFK and why Nixon was in Dallas on November 22, 1963;that Nixon approved the Assassination of Fidel Castro but the CIA failed. Even find out about the night Nixon put the moves on Jackie Kennedy. (I’ll order the book on that, alone!) “Nixon’s Secrets” will be in the stores on August 11 but can be ordered right now at

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