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The Tualatin Police Department celebrated its 25th anniversary Saturday with a gala at the Tualatin Country Club.

'On behalf of the (city) council and the 26,000 wonderful folks who live in this community, I'd like to offer my sincerest thanks to everyone in this room,' Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden told the room of about 200, including a number of current and former police officers. 'There's no words to express our gratitude, no contracts we could negotiate or pay we could give you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the work you do for us.'

Former mayor Luanne Thielke was among those honored for the department's founding. Before the department's creation, Tualatin contracted with the Washington County Sheriff's Office for police services.

'Thanks to Luanne for knowing that part of being a community is having all the components in place,' Ogden said. 'All the wonderful work that the sheriff's department did for us is not the same as having your own family.'

It was in late April of 1986 that City Manager Stephen Rodes sent a letter to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, informing them that Tualatin would form its own Police Department by the first of the coming year.

'We started out with 12 in January of 1987,' said Steve Winegar, Tualatin's first chief of police. 'These were people who were extremely committed (to serving the community). There's no other way to do it.

'One of the things we were committed to was we wanted to be better; better than anything we'd ever done before. What we lacked in experience we made up for with enthusiasm.'

The police force now boasts 38 officers. In its first year of operation, the department received 4,709 calls for service from a population of 11,690. In 2011, there were more than 28,000 calls for service from a population of 26,400.

The original 12 officers - also known as the 'Dirty Dozen' - were honored that night, including Officer Dave Woods, who died 1998.

'I still hear stories about many of you today from the officers you coached,' said current Chief of Police Kent Barker to the remaining Dirty Dozen. 'Some of those stories I can't mention in a setting such as this, but what really thrills me the most is to hear current managers and supervisors say that if it hadn't been for the coaching and mentoring of you, they would not be in the positions they are in today.'

As for the department in 2012, there are many city employees who are confident that, 25 years after the department's founding, it remains in good hands.

'(Chief Barker is) the kind of person you aspire to be like,' said City Council Member Nancy Grimes. 'I can't think of a better role model for the officers to be like, both in their work and personal lives.'

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