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No bad-cop act for this good cop

If Batman is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero, then Claudio Grandjean might just be Gresham’s Batman.

With his motorcycle — or Batmobile, to keep the metaphor going — he cruises through Gresham City with detective reasoning and the athleticism gained from two decades on the Gresham SWAT team.OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Claudio Grandjean, who has lived in the Gresham area since 4,  was sworn in as a Gresham police officer nearly three decades ago and was recently promoted to captain.

“I’m eligible to retire, but I like what I’m doing,” said Grandjean, 52. The father of three was recently promoted from lieutenant to the lone captain of the Gresham Police Department.

“Capt. Grandjean is a well-respected member of the department and has deep roots to the Gresham community after having grown up here,” says Chief Craig Junginger. “He has excelled in all areas of law enforcement that he has worked. I was proud to promote him.”

Like Bruce Wayne, in or out of the uniform, Grandjean is the man to summon in a crisis. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Claudio Grandjean has Batman paraphernalia throughout  his office.

“In our early patrol years, if you needed cover on a call, Claudio was the officer you wanted to be that cover officer,” said Carla Piluso, who was police chief from 2002-08. “If you needed advice, Claudio was always available, sincere and honest with that advice.”

Piluso is now a state representative and chairwoman of the Gresham Barlow School Board.

Although the origin of his last name — Grandjean — is Swiss and French, his parents are immigrants from Peru, which made their son indispensable as one of a few police Spanish speakers in the early 1990s.

“Eventually we pushed for, and I got, incentive pay (for speaking Spanish) because I was doing all sorts of work,” Grandjean said. “It attracted other people, and we have a handful of Spanish speakers now where we didn’t before.”

Ride-along leads to police work

Grandjean moved to Gresham with his family at age 4. He married his sweetheart from Gresham High School, Shelley, and together they have three boys, CJ, Rocky and Alex.

He went to college to study broadcast journalism and worked for U-Haul after graduating.

A chance encounter led him to police work.

“I went on a ride-along and just the idea of helping people — it sounds corny, but it’s really true — helping people who need help, whether it be someone who needs help with a broken-down vehicle to someone who needs help because they are getting beat up by their spouse … to be able to do something right here where I grew up to make a difference with some people, that was very attractive to me,” Grandjean said. “The more I did it, the more I realized this is definitely what I wanted to do.”

He joined the department in 1987.

Shelley Grandjean calls her husband the most honest man she knows. The couple have been married 30 years, enjoy their home in Boring and spend free time exercising together or taking long rides on the motorcycle.

“I’m Batgirl,” Shelley says.

Grandjean’s passion for fitness —he works out most days at a Crossfit gym — has helped him stand out in the department. From 1989 to 2009 he was on Gresham’s SWAT team, which meant Grandjean had to pass a grueling, yearly physical exam. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Claudio Grandjean and his wife, Shelley, met at Gresham High School. Theyve now been married for 30 years.

In the early years of his marriage, Grandjean would work a swing shift and arrive home at midnight. He would wake with his children, all under age 3, at 6 a.m. while Shelley went to work as a dental assistant. If he needed a nap before work, Grandjean would lie on the floor sideways and prop his children up against him so they would wake him if they moved.

“That’s what parenthood is about,” Grandjean said. “It’s sacrifice.”

It’s that dedication that makes him an inspiration to others.

Fire chief a longtime friend

Gresham Fire Chief Greg Matthews has known Grandjean since high school. They were sworn into the police department at the same time, but after 10 years Matthews switched over to fire.

Matthews remembers when Grandjean was recognized for his frizzy head of hair, not the bald look he sports today. Grandjean was voted as the class clown at Gresham High and starred as the lead in “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“There is nobody I know cut from a better cloth than Claudio,” Matthews said. “I understand that in every profession there are some blemishes along the way, but there are also incredible people serving their community, and Claudio is one of those.”OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Capt. Claudio Grandjean, 52, works out at a Gresham-area crossfit gym, where he also teaches classes. Working out regularly helped him stay on the Gresham Police Departments SWAT team for 20 years.

Matthews’s point that police don’t always have a good reputation weighs heavily on Grandjean. When asked what’s changed most about his job, he echoes Matthews’ words.

“Overall the job has gotten harder, and it’s gotten harder because there used to be an assumption or belief that cops were the good guys and going to do the right thing and now there’s the assumption that we’re the bad guys and going to do the wrong thing,” Grandjean said.

He says this is not because policing has changed, but because people have more access to see how the police work with so many people recording them and putting the videos online.

“People have seen what the use of force looks like. It used to be we only heard what it looked like,” Grandjean said. “Now people can see what it looks like, and it doesn’t look pretty and it makes people feel uneasy, so there’s this assumption that we must be doing something wrong.”

As is his philosopy toward life, Grandjean said he’ll continue to serve Gresham as long as he enjoys it. As to whether he considered applying for the chief’s job — Junginger is retiring June 1 — it’s probably not on the table.

“I haven’t been thinking about it,” Grandjean said. “I’m late to leadership in this profession. I just did things that were fun, SWAT — that’s fun. Detective — that’s fun. Firearms — that’s fun. I did things that my passions kind of made me chase.

“I didn’t put in for sergeant until I was 18 years at this job. I wasn’t thinking that far ahead and I’m not thinking that far ahead now.”


jweinberger@theoutlookonline.com

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