REEDSPORT -- Police Chief Duane Wisehart is retiring.

Wisehart, 56, took the job more than five years ago, after the unexpected death of Chief Mark Fandrey.

His retirement marks the end of a more than three decade career in law enforcement.

When Wisehart first came to Reedsport from the Hemet Police Department in Southern California, he said the department was known as a training ground.

These days, he said there’s been relatively low turnover.

He attributes some of that to better morale, partly from having nicer equipment.

Under his management, the station has gotten five new police cars.

He said the department had previously only bought used police vehicles, which are usually pretty beat up.

The department also got a drug sniffing dog thanks to donations from citizens.

But those aren’t the only changes he’s pushed for.

In 2015, the Reedsport School District got a School Resource Officer.

Wisehart said getting an SRO in the school was one of his bigger priorities.

“I’ve seen successes in it,” Wisehart said.

He said kids are able to form a relationship with the police officer, creating a sense of trust.

Wisehart said SROs prevent things before they happen or keep kids out of trouble before it starts.

The police chief said living in a small town like Reedsport gives him the opportunity to impact the community in a much greater way.

“You’re living in a fish bowl, which is good it kind of holds you to task,” he said.

He said his SRO, Cpl. Matt Smart, is a walking encyclopedia of Reedsport history.

“I’m always awe struck with the amount of information the individual officers know about the history of town,” Wisehart said.

Interviews for Wisehart’s replacement will take place the evening of June 6.

Wisehart said he doesn’t think a change agent is necessarily a good thing. When he first got the job, he said he sat back and looked at everything before he made any changes.

“For me, I don’t see that we need a lot of changes,” he said. “I would hope that somebody just keeps things going in the right direction.”

June 14 will be his last day. After that, he is moving to Kalispell, Montana to be with his wife who got a job at a medical fitness facility.

Wisehart said he’s going to miss the small-town connection.

Reach Saphara Harrell at (541) 269-1222 ext. 239 or by email at saphara.harrell@theworldlink.com

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