Department has seen a lot of changes over the past few years

Oregon City Police Chief Mike Conrad will retire effective May 31 and be replaced by OCPD Lt. Jim Band, who acknowledged that he has big shoes to fill.

“I feel honored more than anything else, but it also comes with a huge responsibility,” Band said.

Conrad has worked in law enforcement for more than 29 years. He began working for OCPD in 2002 and has served as chief since 2009. City Manager David Frasher also announced on Thursday that Conrad will continue leading OCPD for approximately six months following his retirement to aid with the leadership transition.

“Chief Conrad has done an amazing job with the department. He has implemented improved staffing levels, efficiencies, accountability and professionalism, establishing Oregon City as one of the most respected law-enforcement agencies in the state,” Frasher said.

Band, 42, began his career more than 15 years ago as an officer with the city of Mt. Angel. He joined OCPD in 1999, working his way up through the ranks to detective, patrol sergeant, supervising the investigations unit as detective sergeant and was promoted to the rank of operations lieutenant in 2009, primarily responsible for supervision of the patrol division.

“I have worked closely with Lt. Band over the last three years, have observed firsthand his expertise and leadership abilities, and I am confident that he is the ideal choice to serve as Oregon City's next chief of police,” Frasher said.

Band said, “I love the department I work at, and the men and women that I work with to do a good job behind the scenes for the community.” Band noted that Conrad, who will turn 60 in a few years, was “just ready to do some other things.”

When Conrad replaced a former chief who had engaged in public disputes with the police union, “there was a lot of unrest in the department and morale was really low, and he’s done a great job turning that around,” Band said.

Since 2009, the city has steadily been hiring more sworn officers, but OC’s more than 35 cops still fall short of state recommendations for its 30,000 population size. In one big change in 2010, OCPD moved from eight to 10-hour shifts, in an effort to stop more crimes before they happen. The schedule change allowed for an overlap between the graveyard and swing shifts, enabling plain-clothes officers in undercover cars to target problem areas between 9 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“The nice thing about being involved about the changes with Mike is we’ve been involved with a lot of changing of our policies,” Band said. “Now that we’ve gotten things to where they need to be, we just need to maintain things more or less where they are.”

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be more changes for OCPD on the way. Band has seen an uptick in incidents involving concealed weapons, and he’d like to address the community fear that trend represents. On Sunday, March 31, a 22-year-old Oregon City woman with a concealed handgun permit told police that a male assailant fled on foot from Eighth and JQ Adams streets after she produced her weapon. On Feb. 4, Oregon City police cited a man for menacing, and revoked his concealed weapons permit and handgun after he allegedly pulled his weapon on another man outside the Tee Time Bar and Grill, 19197 Molalla Ave.

“In light of what happened out at the (Clackamas Town Center) mall and at that school (in December), people are a little more uneasy about their safety,” Band said. “We need to put more focus into educating the public about what they can do to protect themselves.”

After a man on drugs was reportedly intimidating some neighbors earlier this year, Band assigned an officer to each of the neighborhood associations, so there isn’t a “gap” in service.

“Neighbors basically have a liaison to talk with on a regular basis, and I hope we’ll keep honing in on good opportunities like that,” Band said.

Band and his wife have twin daughters who are 18 years old. He has a bachelor of science degree in human development from Warner Pacific College and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

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