Longtime Forest Grove officer comes to departments rescue by taking captain position

The Forest Grove Police Department has a new Operations Captain.

Sgt. Kevin Ellingsburg agreed to take the position, which was vacated by Aaron Ashbaugh March 1.

“He has wonderful years of experience,” said Police Chief Janie Schutz, citing Ellingsburg’s 20 years as a Forest Grove police officer and his military experience before that.

“I am thrilled,” said Administrative Captain Mike Herb, who has been trying to cover both captain positions amid an unusual wave of departmental challenges. “I have a load lifted off my shoulders knowing that help is coming.”

The quick hire — the job was posted March 18 — is a sharp contrast to the city’s last attempt to fill a captain position in 2011, when the external finalists from two separate searches turned down the job. Internally, sergeants were reluctant to apply for the “promotion” because they would have to give up overtime pay and special incentives that could lift their income above that of the captains who supervised them.

Ellingsburg was a top-level sergeant whose salary incentives included an extra 6 percent for state certification and 2 percent for his bachelor’s degree — and would have included 5 percent more for being part of the detective unit, where he was originally headed.

Forest Grove Human Resources Manager Brenda Camilli said the position posting specifically stated that the salary was “under review.” Camilli said she and other city officials are aware of the pay-equity problem between sergeants and captains and feel it will be best solved while creating the city’s budget for 2013-14 — a process which is under way.

“After 20 years dedicated to this profession, I am looking forward to the challenges ahead as a new captain,” Ellingsburg said.

His promotion will vacate a sergeant position, which will be filled internally by a patrol officer, whose own position would then need filling.

An officer hired last May to fill the vacancy created when Herb became a captain is finishing his training and will start soon, Herb said.

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