John Goodwin

Coquille resident John Goodwin is earning some of the top law enforcement awards in the state, first on Nov. 6 and then on Dec. 9. Goodwin worked 31 years for Coos County at the public works office. He now volunteers as the administrative lieutenant of the sheriff’s reserves.

COQUILLE — A longtime Coquille resident was honored this month and in December for his many years of service in the Coos County Sheriff's Reserves.

John Goodwin volunteers as the administrative lieutenant.

He received one award from the Oregon Police Officers Association on Nov. 6 at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. Then, on Dec. 9, members of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association will honor him.

"I don't know what all the hoopla's about," Goodwin said. "The one in Bend — it's a lifetime achievement award.

"I don't have a big ego so I tend to downplay things like that in my mind."

"Actually, I'm humbled by them," Goodwin said of the awards. "These people are some of the finest people to be working in the world in law enforcement."

Goodwin graduated from Bandon High School in 1961, and he and his wife Sandra have lived in Coquille 42 years. In April, they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. 

Goodwin said some in society may not fully understand the role of police, and others may be critical of it.

"These guys go out there every day," he said. "You and I have more than a reasonable expectation to come home in one piece. They don't."

Goodwin figures he's been involved in the sheriff's reserves off and on since 1967.

Reserve officers are volunteers. Currently Coos County has 15 reserve deputies.

Goodwin's upcoming honors won't be his first. In 1995, he received a commendation from former Coos County District Attorney Paul Burgett in recognition of "extraordinary service to law enforcement and the community."

Goodwin recounted a story of a 1996 incident in which he and another reserve deputy assisted state troopers.

A man who was fleeing from a trooper had "jumped off the bank by the North Bend bridge, and so we went over there to back them up."

The man was not armed. Troopers went around a building in Glasgow.

"This lady pulls up to me and said 'Do you think it's safe to go now?'" he recalled. "She asked me if it was safe to return home."

Goodwin then noticed out of the corner of his eye a rhododendron bush that — lo and behold — had two white tennis shoes.

As it turns out, the fugitive was wearing these.

"He's hiding under this rhododendron bush," Goodwin said.

Goodwin said that "years ago," citizens were presented with a blue card and that they were sworn in with that.

"It was prior to any real formal reserve activity," he said.

Much has changed during the last couple of decades. "The training has been more intense," he said.

"If you don't know the law, you can't administer the law," he said.

"So it's become a lot more intensive, and a lot more liability goes with the territory. We screen our people a lot more intensely than we used to."

"Out of my 15 reserves, I have gone through 100 or more excellent applications," he said.

After the county receives candidates' applications, their names and other personal information such as dates of birth are forwarded to the Law Enforcement Data System to uncover any DUIIs or other troubles with the law.

Next, the candidates are interviewed by the orals board, which includes two or three deputies.

Additionally, reserve deputy candidate information is checked by the county investigator, who is employed by the sheriff's office.

"Basically we end up knowing more about you (the reserve candidates) than you do in some cases," Goodwin said.

"We owe it to the community to put as many good people out there as possible. The program is very good."

Goodwin said that for some people, the reserve deputy program "gives them an opportunity to look at this and see if this is what they want to do, because it's not for everyone. It's (law enforcement) definitely not for everyone."

Goodwin is a 31-year Coos County Roads Department employee, including work as a fleet manager. 

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Goodwin, who will turn 74 on Feb. 7, spoke of himself with a touch of self-deprecating humor.

"Again, I find it difficult to toot my own horn," he said.

"In my opinion, the trainings are no different than (for) those who would want to apply as a regular deputy."

And through orals board questions, regular paid deputies find out and provide candidates what they think of the candidates' ability to do the job.

"We had people who came in and say 'I want to do this,' and then they come back and say, 'Holy smoke!'"

After his volunteering for the reserves in 1967, he took some time off to raise his family. Goodwin got back involved in about 1988, partly because he had a bit more time as his kids got older.

"Life is full of priorities, and for me my family was priority," he said.

"I was getting a little ancient to be chasing people on the street."

When current Sheriff Craig Zanni worked as a detective sergeant in about 2000, Goodwin decided to help again, including at local schools.

"Then after he got elected sheriff he asked me to come back again to help with the program," Goodwin said.

Over the years, he has been heavily involved with the Coquille Valley BPOE Lodge 1935 too, trying once again to give back to the community.

Just as one example, he's helped with the hoop shoot the last 17 years. Youth start at a local level at an Elks Lodge for the competition, then participate at regionals and then back east for nationals.

The Elks support veterans and veterans programs, and they also assist youth who hope to attend college, providing scholarships.

He also volunteered as the exalted ruler of the civic group three times.

"If you are in law enforcement, you are held to a higher standard and that's the way it should be," Goodwin said. "You have to maintain a high degree of integrity and honesty.

"In our dealings, it's not about myself or the sheriff himself. It's about the integrity of the office of sheriff. We hold this to a high degree."

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The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.