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Ask A Cop: Police organization

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 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

“What is the organizational structure of the Lake Oswego Police Department?”

WARRENEach police department is organized a little differently based on community needs, number of officers needed, geographic area served and efficiency. Over the years, our police department has changed its organizational structure a couple times to adapt to new technology and efficiencies. The department is divided into different divisions and headed by the police chief. The chief is responsible for the entire police department and answers to the city manager. He sets the vision of the department, based on input from the city manager and community, sets policy based on best practices for police departments and enforces the professional standards set by the state of Oregon.

Next in rank to the police chief is the police captain. The captain is responsible for overseeing the three lieutenants who are assigned to the patrol division, traffic division and investigations. The captain also administers the communications (LOCOM) manager and the supervisor for the records unit. Below are brief descriptions of the responsibilities of each division.  

The records division processes all written reports, traffic citations, records requests, subpoenas and other documents generated by the police department and received from individuals, businesses and other government agencies, and reports required crime statistics to the state and federal government.

The patrol division, overseen by the patrol lieutenant, responds to all types of emergency and non-emergency calls for public safety service. The division conducts its work during three shifts: day, swing and night. Each shift is led by a sergeant. The patrol division is a 24/7 operation.

The traffic division, led by the traffic lieutenant, investigates traffic crashes, provides selective traffic enforcement and offers public education programs. This division, along with community services, also develops traffic control plans and staffs numerous special events held throughout the city. It also oversees the training unit and training programs within the department.

Community services, a division of traffic and overseen by the traffic lieutenant, consists of community service officers (CSOs) who provide code and parking enforcement, animal control and traffic control; assist with school and community presentations; perform some crime prevention activities; and neighborhood dispute resolution and code violations. A dedicated CSO also serves as the department’s property and evidence technician.

Investigation services (detectives) processes major criminal cases, long-term criminal investigations, background investigations and serve as members of the Clackamas County Major Crimes Team. It targets major offenders, processes crime scenes and coordinates activities with the schools in the city. Detectives also conduct operations with the intent of preventing crime. The investigation services division is led by a detective lieutenant and includes three general assignment detectives. In addition, the school resource officer (SRO) and police officer assigned to TriMet Transit Policing report to our detective lieutenant.

Communications provides 24-hour-a-day emergency and non-emergency call answering and dispatching of services for police, fire and medical emergencies in Lake Oswego. Through a contract they also provide police dispatching service to the cities of West Linn and Milwaukie.

— Officer Julia Warren



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