New police chief for LO

Don Johnson is selected from 70-plus national candidates
by:  Don Johnson

After 32 years in law enforcement, Don Johnson has decided that Lake Oswego is the place where he wants to be.

Johnson has been hired as the new police chief of the Lake Oswego Police Department. He will be leaving Sunnyvale, Calif., where he has been chief of the public safety department for the past six years.

'Don truly fits the bill,' said Lake Oswego City Manager Alex McIntyre. 'I am excited to be able to hire a person with the breadth and depth of experience and education in public safety that he brings to the job.'

Johnson's hiring culminates a long, wide and intensive search that covered more than 70 candidates from 28 states.

'Lake Oswego is a place I will love to be,' Johnson said. 'I've watched for great opportunities in life and to further my professional career, and this is the place for me.'

A huge attraction for Johnson was the strong sense of community engagement in Lake Oswego.

'In January, as soon as I drove into town, I saw the signs for Lake Oswego Reads,' he said. 'Later on I saw the signs for the Lake Oswego Education Foundation. There are so many other things like this, and it shows that this is an absolutely engaged community. It tells me what I will get getting into.'

Another attraction for Johnson in Lake Oswego is the excellent relationship between the police department and fire department. Although he was head of both departments in Sunnyvale, Johnson said he won't mind concentrating on the police chief position here.

'Alex is not interested in creating a combined department,' Johnson said. 'Ed (Wilson, LOFD chief) has done a phenomenal job. You can tell just by looking at the statistics. It will be a joy for me just working in the police department.'

When Johnson begins his duties in Lake Oswego on July 18, he will first work on building ties before starting any new programs.

'Coming into a new situation you've got to evaluate an organization's strengths and an organization's opportunities. I will be listening more than I'll be speaking.

'Don't expect sweeping, big changes quickly. The first thing I'll do is connect and gain the trust inside the department, the city and the community. Then I'll formulate the plan that the city council and city manager want me to make.'

Johnson will bring 10 years of experience as a police chief to Lake Oswego. He began his law enforcement career in 1979 in Sunnyvale, and more than 21 years he rose to the rank of captain. In 2000 he became police chief of Los Altos, Calif. Five years later he returned to Sunnyvale as director of public safety.

While in Los Altos, Johnson became well acquainted with former Lake Oswego city manager Doug Schmitz, and it helped him develop a high opinion of this city.

'I think it will be a great match,' Johnson said.

McIntyre agrees.

'Don will be able to maintain our high level of safety and customer service that our citizens expect and our community deserves,' he said. 'I am confident that the community and police department will be in good hands.'