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Sherwood names new police chief

City leaders say Tualatin Police Department veteran Jeff Groth will help unify department

Five months after former chief Bill Middleton resigned, the city of Sherwood has picked a new police chief.

Tualatin Police Capt. Jeff Groth, an 18-year veteran of the Tualatin Police Department will take over as Sherwood's new police chief on Feb. 4.

'I'm excited … and my focus is on the future,' Groth said. 'I think (the Sherwood Police Department) is a great organization that can only get better.'

Groth, who also serves as the public information officer for the Tualatin Police Department, said he wants to be a vital part of the Sherwood community.

'I worked for a chief that was very involved in the community and he expected that of us,' Groth says. 'Without the community we wouldn't exist. And I think the Sherwood community can expect me to be extremely accessible and involved with them.'

Groth and his wife of 18 years, Cyndi, along with their three children - Brogan, 13, Weston, 10 and Mataya, 2 - will soon relocate from Tualatin to Sherwood.

'There was so much that attracted me to Sherwood,' Groth says. 'The community is vibrant and moving forward and this was just a great opportunity to lead a great organization.'

Being a police chief is something Groth says he's always wanted, but wasn't willing to go just anywhere for the opportunity.

'It's something I wanted, but not at any cost,' he says. 'There are definitely places I wouldn't have had an interest in working, but I consulted people about Sherwood and they all said this is a place to look at.'

Groth was one of three finalists for the position and met with Assistant City Manager Jim Patterson, Public Safety Director Ron Ruecker and former Portland FBI head Robert Jordan in mid-January to interview for the position.

'When you get down to the finalists for a position like this, it isn't about what's wrong with them, but about who would be the best person for the community,' Ruecker says. 'In making the appointment, we recognize Mr. Groth's proven record of leadership and administration, as well as his energy and enthusiasm to lead our police department.'

Patterson calls Groth 'a servant leader who has a heart for people and for Sherwood.'

'He is the right person to unify our police department as police chief and provide focus and direction as the department moves forward.'

Groth's selection comes after months of controversy surrounding former police chief Bill Middleton.

Middleton had served as police chief in Sherwood for 10 years before being called to active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves in 2005. He spent 18 months as a lead interrogator in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

When Middleton returned in May 2007, the events surrounding the creation of a director of public safety position led Middleton to file a federal complaint against the city claiming that Sherwood leaders violated federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. He argued that the new public safety director position changed Middleton's position in the city.

In December, Middleton told the Sherwood Gazette that he still planned to sue the city for violating the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act.

Middleton officially resigned as police chief on Oct. 25 and is now working as the director of campus safety for Warner Pacific College in Portland.

Groth began his law enforcement career in 1989 with the Tualatin Police Department where he's worked as a patrol officer, school resource officer, detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and, currently, as the department's commander of support services and public information officer.