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Ask A Cop: What is a police sergeant?

Editor’s note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Please send your questions to Reporter Cliff Newell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at 503 636-1281, ext 105.

“What is a police sergeant?”

A police sergeant is a front-line supervisor for the police department. There are seven police sergeants with the Lake Oswego Police Department. Six of the sergeants are assigned to patrol supervision and the seventh is assigned to an administrative role. The six patrol sergeants report to the patrol lieutenant and the administrative sergeant reports to the captain and the chief.

The six sergeants assigned to patrol are paired up on each shift. We have two sergeants working on the dayshift, two on swing shift and two on graveyard. The sergeants are in charge of their respective shifts and responsible for numerous tasks. When fully staffed, the sergeants should have seven officers on each of the three shifts. Our primary function is to work with the officers to make sure the citizens and visitors of Lake Oswego are safe and protected.

One of the daily tasks the patrol sergeants perform is the paperwork side of supervision. We maintain the schedule for our shifts to ensure the minimum staffing levels are maintained. We approve all written police reports making sure they are written properly. This includes grammar and spelling as well as ensuring the reports contain all the required information. We also complete annual evaluations of each officer’s performance. The sergeants are responsible for investigating complaints filed on officers.

When we are not handling the paperwork aspects of the job, we are responsible for going out and enforcing the traffic laws and handling calls for service like the officers do. We also ensure the officers are at work and performing their duties. We respond to calls with the officers when needed to offer support and advice. On more serious calls we respond and direct the officers to make sure everyone is safe, the appropriate laws are enforced and the policies and procedures of the police department are followed. Our supervisor vehicles, the two Chevrolet Tahoes, are equipped with additional equipment thta helps the officers on calls and the citizens on major incidents.

All of the sergeants are assigned additional duties. We have a sergeant in charge of our K-9 program, a sergeant on the honor guard team, a sergeant in charge of the field training program, a sergeant on the mobile response team, two sergeants in charge of the Officer in Charge program, a defensive tactics instructor, a firearms instructor, a sergeant is in charge of the business checks program, as well as other duties as assigned.

The sergeants have slightly different uniforms than the officers in that we have three silver stripes on each arm just below the Lake Oswego Police Department patch.

— Sgt. James Peterson, Lake Oswego Police Department



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