Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Baker City Councilman James Clinton “Jim” Thomas was jailed Tuesday morning on a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Thomas, 57, of 1675 East St., was arrested at 11:29 a.m. at the Baker City Police Department. He was jailed and later released on bail.

Dustin Newman, who was promoted from lieutenant to chief of police on Monday, said Thomas had stopped by the department at 1768 Auburn Ave. to show his support for Newman in his new position.

Officer Shannon Regan arrested Thomas near the parking lot of the police department, Newman said. Thomas’ blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .21. The legal limit in Oregon is .08.

“That’s not two beers,” Newman said. “That’s a very high BAC.”

Newman said Regan told him Thomas was polite and cooperative during the arrest.

“He caused no issues whatsoever,” Newman said. “He was apologetic and understood what was going on.”

Newman said it’s never easy for officers to arrest someone with whom they have a relationship, but sometimes, as in this case, it is unavoidable.

“Our job is to hold everybody accountable at the same level,” Newman said. “Because he’s a councilor, he doesn’t get special treatment. I was proud of my officers.”

Thomas worked as a Baker City police officer for several months in 1997 and then left the department.

In a phone interview this morning, Thomas said he would “reserve comment” until after he has appeared in court.

He will be arraigned July 16 at 1 p.m. in Baker County Circuit Court.

Thomas did encourage residents to contact him by email through the city’s website, www.bakercity.com/2168/City-Council

“I’ll do the right thing for the city,” Thomas said.

He was elected to a four-year term to the City Council in November 2014.

His term expires at the end of this year. City Recorder Julie Smith said earlier this month that Thomas had picked up a petition from City Hall allowing him to collect the signatures required to run for re-election Nov. 6.

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