Dale Jorgensen selected as Lake Oswego's new police chief
Lake Oswego Police Capt. Dale Jorgensen will become the city's new police chief on July 1 after current Chief Don Johnson retires. City Manager Scott Lazenby announced the decision in an email to staff and City Councilors on Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm excited for the great opportunity," Jorgensen told The Review. "Chief Johnson has got us on a very good path, and it's our goal to continue on that path."
Jorgensen became a police officer and joined the LOPD in 1997, following an earlier career in retail management. He started as a patrol officer and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2003, followed by detective lieutenant in 2006 and captain in 2009.
Jorgensen's appointment will take effect the same day Johnson is scheduled to retire. Johnson has served as Lake Oswego's police chief since 2011; he announced his retirement plans on April 2.
"This decision was made easier by the many expressions of support for Dale that I received from individuals within the police department, in other departments and positions within the City organization, and from members of the community," Lazenby said. "I am confident that he will not only support the values that make the LOPD such a good police department, but he will also build on them in the spirit of continuous improvement."
Johnson commended the decision, offering strong praise for Jorgensen.
"Dale is an absolutely great choice," he said. "He's worked here for years, he knows the systems inside and out, he knows public government and he knows community service."
Lazenby said the two-month timetable will give Johnson and Jorgensen time to coordinate a smooth transition. Jorgensen currently functions as the department's second-in-command, Johnson said, with an equivalent role to that of an assistant chief.
But Johnson said he intends to step back during the next two months and let Jorgensen take over more of the leadership functions, including hiring or promoting a replacement captain. The two will also work together to make sure Jorgensen can maintain all of the relationships with the public and other agencies that Johnson has built up during the past seven years.
"Dale and I are both of the same mindset that relationships are key for the department," he said.
Lazenby told The Review that he began the search for a successor by asking the mayor and city councilors for feedback about the direction of the department under Johnson. The council's response was unanimously positive and supportive, Lazenby said, so he opted to look for an internal candidate who could maintain that direction.
Jorgensen quickly emerged as the best candidate, Lazenby said, although he was still required to go through a full interview process. He was formally offered the position on Tuesday.
Johnson was not involved in the selection process, but said he received universal feedback in support of Jorgensen, both from within the LOPD and outside of it — and Lazenby said he received similar responses during his search.
Johnson's legacy at the department includes an emphasis on community policing and multiple initiatives aimed at improving the ability of both the police and the public to respond to emergencies, including widespread public CPR training and installing AED units in police cars.
Jorgensen has been heavily involved in those initiatives as well, and city councilors said his appointment as the new LOPD chief will ensure the department can continue in the direction established under Johnson.
"I'm thrilled," said Councilor Jackie Manz on Wednesday. "I'm very impressed with (Jorgensen's) ability to listen to everyone."
Councilors Skip O'Neill and Jeff Gudman also praised the working relationship between Johnson and Jorgensen.
"It's a testament as much to Jorgensen as it is to Johnson, because a high priority of a leader is to train their successor, and Johnson succeeded," Gudman said.