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So long, Salle

Police Chief Steve Salle plans to retire after 34 years, names replacement


by: CITY OF ST. HELENS - Chief SalleLongtime St. Helens Police Chief Steve Salle announced his resignation at a City Council work session Jan. 16.

Although his last day isn’t until April 1, Salle already has a replacement in mind: current St. Helens Police Lieutenant Terry Moss.

“In my mind there is nobody better for this job than Terry. I can’t put it any stronger than that,” Salle told the council members.

Choosing Moss would eliminate the need to conduct an expensive and possibly lengthy outside search, said Mayor Randy Peterson and other City Council members. The council decided to invite Moss to a future meeting to talk to him about the job and make its decision based on his answers and interest in the position.

Salle said there had been a “fair amount of succession planning” with the lieutenant. The department encouraged Moss to turn his two-year degree into a four-year degree and to take on instruction positions at the state police academy as well as at Portland Community College.

Salle said he could not speak for Moss’ interest in the position, and the Spotlight could not reach Moss for comment.

Members of the City Council, while not opposed to Salle’s recommendation, were worried about following proper procedure.

“You’re giving priority to [Moss],” said Council Member Susan Conn. She said she approved of Moss as a candidate, but thought they should open up the search and examine multiple candidates at the same time.

But, said St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh, “it’s not out of the realm of normal to recruit internally before going out [to look for other candidates].”

“The beauty of hiring someone from within is you should know what you’re getting,” said Peterson. Promoting Moss to replace Salle would make the process “not so much of a crapshoot,” he said.

Councilor Doug Morten said the police department is unique among the city departments in how it maintains a strong chain of command, making Moss even more ideal as Salle’s replacement.

“It seems like the second in command is ready [to step in] at any time,” he said.

When he retires in April, Salle will have been with the St. Helens Police Department for exactly 34 years.

He said he is looking forward to his retirement but plans to stay busy teaching at the police academy.

“If anybody has a job for a retired police officer, let me know,” he joked.