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Johnson begins new era as the chief of Lake Oswego police

by: VERN UYETAKE  New Lake Oswego Police Chief Don Johnson was sworn-in Monday at city hall. Above, his nephew, Jeff Keith, Bend, pins his Lake Oswego badge on. Below, the new chief makes his first official speech.

There was a big welcome for new Lake Oswego Police Chief Don Johnson at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday at city hall.

'What you are doing is showing the support a new chief needs,' Johnson told the overflow crowd in the city council chambers.

It was a time for seriousness and celebration as Johnson was given the oath of office by Judge Bruce Shepley. He became Lake Oswego's first full-time police chief in 14 months, since the sudden death of Dan Duncan in May of 2010. Those attending included city councilors, judges, firefighters, police chiefs from other cities, and Johnson's new brother and sister officers of the LOPD.

'Don Johnson will uphold the highest standards and integrity for the Lake Oswego Police Department,' said City Manager Alex McIntyre, who told an anecdote that showed Johnson was already on the job even before it became official.

'I forwarded him a complaint made by a citizen and told him, 'Welcome to Lake Oswego.'' McIntyre said. 'Don took time from driving from California to take care of this complaint.'

Johnson was practically breathless on what was literally his very first day on the job. A lifelong Californian, he said coming to Oregon was the biggest move of his life.

'It's tough to take 30 years of your life and put it in a box,' Johnson said. 'I've never had to do such a wholesale relocation like this in my life.'

Still, Johnson called himself 'the luckiest guy in the world.'

His overriding emotions were excitement and gratitude upon taking his new position.

'My objective is to do my best every day that I come to work,' Johnson told the audience. 'What we have here is a partnership to keep this city safe. We're a team that will solve problems and move this city in a positive direction.'

Nodding toward the police officers lined up behind him, Johnson said, 'This department really stands on firm ground. We owe this community exemplary service every day we come to work. Our job is to see how the police department can fit in and make Lake Oswego a better place to live.'

Of his warm welcome to Lake Oswego, Johnson said, 'That's the way it has been every step. It's been wonderful.'

Johnson said he would spend his first months in office becoming well acquainted with LOPD officers and city officials before forming new plans or projects.

Although a veteran of 32 years in law enforcement, Johnson said he would bring a sense of personal renewal to his new post.

'Whether I'm administering an oath or taking an oath, it takes me right back to where I started,' Johnson said. 'These are the pillars on which our whole profession is built. It is where trust comes.'

Police chiefs attending the ceremonial occasion were Bob Jordan of Milwaukie, Rick Sallee of St. Helens, Al Orr of Tigard, Jerry Giger of Molalla, Carey Sullivan of Hillsboro and Mike Bell, assistant chief of Tigard.

Others attending were Mike Caputo of the FBI, Kevin Poppen of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote, DPSST Director Eriks Gabliks and police chaplain Chuck Boman.