Brandon Sarti calls himself a man of routine.

In the morning, the 43-year-old helps enforce Winston’s school zones, then he gets to the police station and goes to meetings, looks at officer’s reports, finds out what needs to be ordered or replaced and sometimes helps out with patrols.

“Same thing every day, but what’s nice about it is when I get out on the street when we get calls, they might be the same type of call but every scenario is different,” Sarti said. “And that’s the enjoyment of the job.”

Now, that routine is shifting as he takes on the role of police chief. Winston’s former police chief, Scott Gugel, retired last month after 14 years on the job.

Sarti grew up in Roseburg and began volunteering for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in the early ‘90s.

He did marine patrol, but eventually got involved with the search and rescue dive team, a job he still does today.

“Everyone asks why do you go do that,” he said. “And I say, ‘You know I’ve been a diver for a long time and I always want to get the loved one back to a family if I can.’

“And that’s the goal. You want to make sure that the family can have some closure as well and that’s why I do that. That’s the only reason, because it’s not fun,” he said.

In 1996, he became a reserve officer in Winston and was hired on one year later.

“I had opportunities to move on or go somewhere else, but I enjoyed where I was at. I enjoyed the job that I did and I felt like as a small town officer I was accomplishing something,” Sarti said.

In recent years, Sarti said property crimes have increased in Winston, which he believes people commit to support their drug habit.

“Our officers are getting a lot more drugs off the street lately — small amounts — but a lot more,” he said.

One of the ways Sarti hopes to combat that increase is to get a drug dog, something he’s currently raising money for and enlisting the help of Friends of Umpqua Valley Police K9 programs.

The department also recently had an officer train to become a drug recognition expert and hired a full-time city ordinance officer to do code compliance.

In all, the Winston Police Department has seven officers, not including Sarti.

He said the staffing level is the same now as it was in 1989 when Gugel started. One day, he hopes to be able to hire another officer.

“We’re very short staffed even at full staff,” Sarti said.

When Gugel was chief, Sarti also pushed for a volunteer cadet program for 18- to 21-year-olds interested in joining law enforcement.

“Not many agencies are doing them anymore,” Sarti said. “It allows us to see what they’re about, what they’re capable of.”

Then, the volunteer cadets might be moved into the reserve program or offered a full-time job.

That was how Sarti got involved in the profession.

He recalled volunteering for the sheriff’s office and riding along with now-Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

Sarti said the main lesson he learned from Hanlin was to treat people right.

“Treat people like you want to be treated and only turn it up if the scenario requires you to turn it up,” Sarti said.

That’s a lesson he has continued to draw upon through his career.

“I tell everyone, ‘If you go talk to people I’ve arrested on the street, the one thing they’ll tell you is that I always treat them with respect,’” Sarti said.

The other role model Sarti has learned from was Gugel.

He said the former chief taught him a lot about leadership and the transition from being a street cop to an administrator.

“My chief told me, he goes ‘Listen, you learn more by listening than talking, so try that out,’” Sarti said.

Sarti is part of a wave of new, younger leadership in the police departments around the county.

Earlier this year, Gary Klopfenstein took over as the Roseburg police chief. Last year, Troy Mills became Sutherlin’s chief.

“All these guys are young guys so we’ve got a whole new leadership in our county that are eager to want to do good,” Sarti said.

He said because the leadership is younger, they still want to get out and help with patrols.

“We took these roles, I think, because we want to start guiding our agencies in a direction that we believe, based on our experience level, we need to go,” Sarti said.

City Manager Mark Bauer said Sarti will be chief on an interim basis for a few months while he evaluates his performance.

He said it’s exciting seeing the energy Sarti is bringing to the position.

“In watching Brandon I can tell he’s ready,” Bauer said. “He just needs some time in the position to learn the nuances of what the chief’s role is.”

Saphara Harrell can be reached at 541-957-4216 or sharrell@nrtoday.com. Or on Twitter

@daisysaphara.

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Crime and Natural Resources Reporter

Saphara Harrell is the crime and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She previously worked at The World in Coos Bay. Follow her on Twitter @daisysaphara.

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