COQUILLE — Scott Sanders has worn many proverbial caps in his decades-long career: soldier, Coast Guardsman, deputy, police officer. On Wednesday, he added the latest title to his resume: Coquille Chief of Police.
The position sat vacant after the previous chief, Janice Blue, departed suddenly in mid-February. Sanders, a Bardstown, Kentucky native, was one of a handful of applicants to apply, and he had a considerable background in the area.
While in the Coast Guard, Sanders spent time stationed at Sector North Bend. After getting out of the service, where he spent 20 years, Sanders said he knew he wanted to go into law enforcement, and so he sent applications to several places.
He got an answer from the Coos County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for a few years before getting recruited by the Myrtle Point Police Department. He then spent 11 years working for Chief Rock Rakosi.
"I have great respect for him and he has for me," Sanders said.
He said he gave Myrtle Point four weeks of notice, spending his spare time in Coquille doing his best to familiarize himself with his new department. Officially on the job Wednesday, his first big challenge was just a few days away: Coquille's Gay 90s festivities.
Further out, Sanders said one of the biggest challenges facing his department was getting the equipment up to snuff. The radios need to be brought into compliance, and the department's short a few cars, including one for Sanders.
"But we've got that ball rolling," he said.
Sanders said it was an advantage coming to Coquille from neighboring Myrtle Point, as the two cities' departments frequently interact and work together.
He said he also had a good working relationship with the Coos County Sheriff, and most of the area chiefs of police. Additionally, Sanders said he and Coquille City Manager Ben Marchant were "very compatible."
Married for 33 years, with two grown children, Sanders said he and his wife had no intention of going anywhere anytime soon.
"I was very upfront with (city officials), I'm not trying to advance," Sanders said.
In his spare time, Sanders said has a few hobbies he enjoys.
"I mess around with old classic cars," he said.
In addition, Sanders said he enjoys racing dirt bikes, something he said people occasionally express surprise about when they learn he does it.
"It's a fun family thing to do," he said.
Sanders said that he's grateful to the City of Coquille and its residents for giving him the chance to try something new, and he had a simple answer when asked what his law enforcement philosophy.
"The citizens of Coquille come first," Sanders said. And as for criminals?
"Firm but fair."