MYRTLE CREEK — As one police chief stepped down, another was sworn in to take his place at the Myrtle Creek Police Department.
Jonathan Brewster took his oath as the new police chief Monday morning, sworn in by Myrtle Creek City Recorder Joshua Norton. He takes over for retiring chief Don Brown, who leaves after 14 years as the head of the police department. Brewster, 41, was a reserve for MCPD and was hired full time by Brown shortly after he took over the department.
“He believed in me and he’s been a great mentor and he came to me about three years ago and asked if I would be interested in taking the chief position when he retired,” Brewster said.
Brewster, who grew up in Myrtle Creek, had moved up to sergeant the eight-officer force. He said Brown leaves the department in good shape.
“It’s heading in the right path and I just want to continue heading in the (direction) Don did,” he said. “The changes that we’ve made with the technology and laws, I just want to continue what Don did.”
Brewster said the department is very young, with not a lot of experience, and some coming out of the police academy that are not even on the job yet. But his biggest challenge he says, will be make sure they have the tools and training they need to do their job to serve the citizens of Myrtle Creek. And he’s already had a head start on the administrative part of the job.
“Don’s been really good about letting me do this for about the last six to eight months, doing the chief’s job and being there to answer my questions when I had them,” Brewster said.
Brown says he’s leaving the department in good hands.
“I think the condition I’m leaving the department is like night and day from when I took over,”Brown said. “They’ve got the equipment to do the job, and they’ve got real good support from this community and the council. It’s been a real smooth ride for 14 years.”
Brown, 59, began his police career in Myrtle Creek in 1989 before going to Lincoln City in 1991. Six years later, he joined the Oregon State Police and served for seven years before going to Iraq for a year in 2004 with plans to train Iraqi police officers. But instead, he ended up being the deputy regional commander and was in charge of the south-central multinational division.
Law enforcement, Brown says, has changed in a lot of ways since he started in Myrtle Creek.
“In law enforcement in general, obviously technology has changed dramatically, the laws have changed,” Brown said. “It seems like law enforcement is getting squeezed, you just about can’t arrest anybody for dope in the state of Oregon.”
And with the change in marijuana laws, Brown says it’s a lot harder to get into vehicles for searches.
“It used to be if you smelled marijuana, you had probable cause to get into a car,” he said. “So now you don’t get all the white dope that goes along with it.”
Brown will miss the camaraderie, but he plans to still participate in community activities in the city and school district.
Brown plans to spend more time at his cabin east of Klamath Falls doing a lot of riding and hunting, and even has a long ride planned with his horse and mule along the Pacific Crest Trail for about three weeks this summer.
As he leaves law enforcement, he is most proud of the fact that he is leaving in good standing.
“Surviving it, that’s the main thing, and able to finish it on a positive note and being able to keep it together all those years,” Brown said.