COTTAGE GROVE – Cory Chase was announced as the new Cottage Grove Police Department (CGPD) police chief on Aug. 25 and will officially start on Sept. 11.
“This is a department that needs some really strong leadership right now, some guidance, and some accountability – and I think those are some of my strong suits,” Chase said.
He said that he felt “honored” to have been selected as CGPD’s new police chief. Chase also said he’s looking forward to getting to know everybody and getting started.
“There’s a lot of work ahead, obviously,” Chase said. “I’m really excited about the team that’s in place, and I’m really excited about the work ahead of us. We’re gonna jump in and just start getting things done.”
Chase, who has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Columbia Southern University, currently serves as the assistant chief of police of the Port of Portland.
There has been some online backlash of Cottage Grove’s selection of Chase, as he is currently working in Portland. Critics suggested that Chase would not enforce Cottage Grove laws because there is an assumption that Portland police don’t take crime or houselessness seriously enough.
However, city manager Richard Meyers pointed out that there is a drastic difference between the perception of Chase working in Portland and the reality of Chase working in the Port of Portland.
“He’s in Portland, but he’s not working for Portland with the thousands of police officers,” Meyers said. “He’s working with an agency that’s representing 10,000 people – basically the airport and the port equipment and employees.”
Chase supervises 61 sworn-in officers and six other personnel with the Port of Portland.
He has worked in law enforcement for 25 years, although three of those years were as a volunteer. His career started with the Prineville Police Department, where he stayed for three years as a patrol officer and field training officer. Chase then moved to the Redmond Police Department and stayed there for eight years, earning many titles: patrol officer, field training officer, narcotics detection K9 handler, street crimes unit detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, Central Oregon drug enforcement team sargeant, and patrol lieutenant.
Assistant to the city manager Jake Boone said Chase’s experience and acquired skills from these variety of positions is part of what set him apart from Sean Lundry, the other CGPD police chief candidate.
“Both were very strong candidates, but having that assistant chief experience and some of the administrative know-how that he had picked up from that, I think was pretty good at helping push him over the top,” Boone said.
He added that the feedback cards from the police chief finalist meet and greet on July 17 also played a role in the selection of Chase as well as the follow-up conversations with him in the last interviews.
In order for Chase to take the job as CGPD’s police chief, he will be moving away from his family for a year. His daughter is going into her senior year of high school, and Chase and his wife decided not to uproot her right before she would leave for college. Chase’s wife will be staying back in Washougal, Washington, with their daughter while Chase moves down to Cottage Grove.
“He’s looking for a place to rent for the first year or so, and then once his daughter is all done with high school – and I don’t know if it will be the beginning of summer or after she goes off to college – then they’re going to be moving down here on a permanent basis,” Boone said.
In addition to Chase saying, “If you don’t have empathy for human beings, and you don’t have empathy for people, this is not the profession for you to be in,” he has made it clear that he will be the type of police chief to lead by example.
“If I come into work every day, and I’m using profanity and swearing and telling inappropriate jokes, of course they’re going to see that and think that’s OK – which it’s not in my opinion,” Chase said.
He mentioned that becoming CGPD’s police chief is a challenge because “this is nothing that I’ve done before,” but he added that he’s comfortable and ready.
“It’s an opportunity anytime you have the chance to do something different,” Chase said. “It’s just an opportunity to improve yourself and to get better at the things that you know you do well and improve on things that are not so great.”