REEDSPORT -- Appreciating the small-town life, Lance McElroy has joined the city police force.
McElroy's first day on the job was March 16.
Before coming to Reedsport, he lived in Nome, Alaska.
McElroy was born and raised in Missouri and graduated from Willard High School in Willard, Mo., in 2006.
He served in the Army on active duty from August 2007 through November 2011 in Fort Lewis, Wash., and then in the National Guard from November 2011 to February 2014 in the National Guard, mostly in Oregon, except for two months in Alaska.
In 2013, he earned his associate of applied science degree in criminal justice from Pioneer Pacific College in Springfield, Ore.
McElroy discussed what attracted him to a career in law enforcement and helping others. In his sophomore year of high school, a friend of his he'd known since kindergarten overdosed on heroin. As a result of this, McElroy talked with a Willard police officer, asking "How do you like it? What are you guys doing? How can I get into it?"
Reedsport appeals to McElroy and his spouse, Cassandra.
"My wife is originally from Oregon, so she wanted to come back," he said. Like Nome (pop. 3,700), Reedsport is a small community.
For McElroy, police work is more than simply a matter of enforcement. It's a matter of checking on one's neighbors.
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"We're not just going to drive by," he said. "We're not just all enforcement. It's not 'Uh oh, the cops are here.'"
This also entails checking in on people and making sure they're all right.
For him, it's about engaging with the community. For example, he said Officer Jim Wood knows everyone in the community.
McElroy is keeping pretty busy as it is with his full-time job and family.
"Right now, it's just hanging with the kids," he said. "My wife's due in June."
The couple have two children currently. Their son, Tyson, is 5, and daughter Aryanna will turn 3 this August.
Police Chief Duane Wisehart expressed his happiness at having McElroy on board.
"Oh, he's been an outstanding hire," Wisehart said. "He's been highly energetic."
"It's nice to be up to a full staff where people can take vacations," the police chief noted.
With the hiring of McElroy, the police force now has nine certified officers, one part-time officer, four full-time dispatchers, three part-time dispatchers and a full-time dispatch supervisor/administrative assistant.