When it was announced at a news conference last Friday in the Eugene City Council Chambers, that the city had hired its new police chief, they didn’t have to look far after a nationwide search – they already had one, interim chief police Pete Kerns, became Chief of Police during the announcement.
Kerns will inherit a 300 member plus department, along with 911 dispatchers and a $42 million budget, his annual salary will be between $100, 000 and $109,000.
A 28 years veteran of the department, Kerns is no stranger to the EPD, he began his career as an unpaid police reserve officer in 1981 and was hired as a full time police officer several years later. Kerns quickly rose the ranks in the department and was recently a Captain of the department before former chief of police Robert Leher left for California earlier this spring.
Many wonder from reports to blogs surrounding Kerns appointment if the city had made the right choice and the right man for the job. I have had the privilege to work with Chief Kerns over the years, when he was a reserve police officer with EPD, as I was a young gun learning the ropes of law enforcement with another Lane County Agency as an police explorer.
Kerns appointment as the police department’s Top Cop, brings a moral booster, hopefully for both line officers and dispatchers within the department. As the level of service in the department went belly up over department over scandals – it was mentioned during the press conference that the recent scandals are now in the past and the department is now moving forward in rebuilding the department’s image.
I would have to agree – now seems the time for the department to improve its image and provide the level of community service of public safety the city needs from a highly regarded department, that makes Eugene safe and sound 24/7/365.
However, the rebuilding process seems to make some unchartered waters among those in the community that oppose the new chief’s appointment, I can understand those feelings among some citizens who dearfully critical of the department rank and file & line officers on the streets.
As working with Kerns in the past, he’s dedicated to his service to the department and I’d trust him with my life, if I were in arms way.
Time will tell, if Kerns appointment will make for a meaningful approach in working with the police auditor’s office and the city’s police oversight committee, hopefully the will of the people the live and work in Eugene, will give the guy some time to make amends