BEND, OR -- A consultant hired by the Deschutes County Sheriff was arraigned in Multnomah County Wednesday, following a 19-count indictment. Kevin Dahlgren is accused of stealing from the city of Gresham during his work as a homeless outreach specialist, among other charges.
"You can’t make this stuff up." Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang told KBND News Wednesday, "I mean, this is stranger than fiction." He's frustrated Dahlgren was hired by DCSO more than three months after Gresham put him on administrative leave and launched a criminal investigation. "Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, it really makes me question how much reference checking and credential checking the Sheriff’s Office did before they executed this contract." Chang added, "I’m pretty sure that if the Sheriff contacted Mr. Dahlgren’s most recent employer to understand what kind of expertise he had in homelessness, that they may have said what he was put on administrative leave for."
That $18,750 dollar contract was signed by Sheriff Shane Nelson on July 13, 2023 and terminated August 23, 2023, after his office learned of the Multnomah County investigation. However, he had already submitted a draft report on homelessness, dated "June 14th-July 31st, 2023." He billed DCSO for his work and the agency confirms Dahlgren was paid in full.
The report features numerous spelling and grammatical errors, and unsubstantiated statistics and assumptions. "After reading his draft report, which was quite a piece of work, by the way," said Chang, "I would say Mr. Dahlgren did nothing but harm." He went on to call the work "shotty." He added, "The damage of his work was already done. The impact of his work had already been accomplished."
The Sheriff's Office issued a statement after Dahlgren's arrest saying "During the early summer of 2023, community members informed the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office about Kevin Dahlgren volunteering in the homeless encampments within Deschutes County. Our office made contact with Mr. Dahlgren regarding the homeless issues facing Deschutes County. Mr. Dahlgren was eventually contracted by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office as a homeless consultant. Mr. Dahlgren was contracted to conduct outreach and determine the potential impact of the current homeless on safety."
Dahlgren has also made a name for himself on social media, posting videos and stories of people he claimed to come across in his work as an outreach specialist. Chang says the overall scope of work submitted to Deschutes County is not consistant with what's expected from a man claiming to be a social scientist, "There are some basic standards of maintaining privacy of human subjects and essentially not exploiting human subjects to promote the researcher."
Commissioner Chang says, "There are people in our community who want to create a narrative about homelessness. I believe those folks sought Mr. Dahlgren out because they were convinced he would reinforce the false narrative they were trying to promote." He notes the work Dahlgren was hired to do had already been conducted earlier this year, during the federally mandated Point In Time (PIT) count.