After the top two officers in the North Bend Police Department abruptly retired Wednesday, North Bend turned to Coos Bay for assistance.
City Administrator David Milliron sent a letter to North Bend staff Thursday explaining the steps being taken after Police Chief Robert Kappelman and Captain Curt Bennett sent letters Wednesday morning saying they were retiring as of 5 p.m. the same day.
In his letter to staff, Milliron said as soon as he received the notices, he called Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock.
“As we work together to recruit and appoint an interim police chief, I reached out to my counterpart at the city of Coos Bay yesterday,” Milliron wrote. “I requested his police department’s temporary assistance in maintaining support services. The team will also work to set the tone to help our valued police department employees continue to be successful here at the city of North Bend. In doing so, North Bend will temporarily have some shared administration services with Coos Bay’s police chief and two captains until an interim police chief is named. Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier also reached out today and offered his full support during this transition period.”
In his letter, Milliron said he was grateful for the work Kappelman and Bennett did while serving North Bend.
“I am proud of their many accomplishments during their tenure and look forward to hearing of their success as we continue to move forward here,” he wrote.
Milliron said he has already begun the process of finding an interim police chief, although he did not indicate when someone might be hired.
In the meantime, Milliron said the review of the department authorized by city council will continue and will help guide the decision on who the new permanent chief will be.
“Building community and maintaining public trust for all remains our local government’s primary mission,” Milliron wrote. “Therefore, North Bend will continue to move forward with plans for a 360-degree operational assessment of the police department, as requested by the city council. The evaluation is expected to include on-site visits, significant analysis of current data, and a series of interviews with staff, government officials and community members. The interim police chief and supervisory staff will have an opportunity to provide input into the request for proposal document before being put out for bid.
“Studies of this nature are predisposed toward the identification of areas requiring improvement. Accordingly, they tend to present what needs work without fully acknowledging and highlighting the positive aspects of an organization. I know we have a great police department with dedicated personnel that wants to evolve into the best agency possible. The professional law enforcement study intends to help guide the administration and city council forward in preparing a strategic plan for future growth and development, and address the long-standing concerns that have been discussed dating back to the public safety fee reduction in May 2020.”
Milliron said he will not be in a hurry to find a permanent police chief, again expressing confidence in the police department as a whole.
“Once we have a roadmap and the police department is stabilized, we can begin the collaborative process of recruiting and hiring a new police chief,” Milliron wrote. “North Bend’s next police chief will be a proven leader who demonstrates a collaborative and team-oriented approach to leadership and service to the community, takes a proactive stance towards problem-solving and understands and values the culture of North Bend, and knows its demographics, both culturally and socioeconomically, as well as its challenges and issues. We will take our time finding the right candidate, and I will be looking for ways to engage our residents in the process.”