The streets of King City just got a little safer with the arrival of new police Officer Pat Dean on Feb. 13.
Hardly a rookie, Dean has decades of experience as a police officer, railroad special agent, sheriff's deputy and member of the Oregon National Guard, serving a tour in Afghanistan. Now he is looking forward to settling into King City and serving the local residents.
Dean is a bit of a native son, born and raised on the east side of Portland, as well as spending time in Corbett and Springdale, Oregon. At age 17, he left high school and joined the Marine Corps, later earning his GED.
"My dad was a Marine and is now a retired police officer, and he encouraged me to join the Air Force, but I didn't listen," said Dean, who spent about two years in the Marines.
After that, "I bounced around between different jobs and finally in 1990 became a (volunteer) reserve deputy for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office," Dean said.
After one-and-a-half years, he became a Scappoose Police Department volunteer reserve officer, and in 1994, Dean became a certified police officer in Scappoose, staying almost four years before going back to the county as a deputy for nine years.
"Sheriff's deputies have the responsibilities of city police officers like dealing with domestic violence plus additional ones like running the jail and civil processes. I also have experience in the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, as a school resource officer, and in motor carrier enforcement checking truck weight permits," Dean said.
Along the way he used the G.I. Bill to earn his degree in homeland security and studied emergency management, "which is always something I've been interested in," he said. In 2005 he joined the Oregon National Guard and was sent to help out the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation along the Gulf Coast between central Florida and Texas.
"It was a great deployment and a good opportunity," Dean said. "I had lots of positive interactions with people."
Next he was deployed to Afghanistan, and when Dean came back, he said that hard economic times had hit Columbia County "so it was time to look for work someplace else."
He went to work for Union Pacific Railroad for six years as a "railroad cop" or special agent. While he found the work interesting, "I missed being in the public sector while I was working for a big corporation," he said.
So Dean became an investigator for the State of Oregon's Department of Human Services, uncovering cases of neglect and abuse. Dean also investigated Medicaid fraud in the homecare worker program for the Oregon Department of Justice.
"I had a wide variety of fascinating cases, often involving greed," he said. "Fraud cases were fascinating, but I missed police work. I had applied here in King City before, and (King City Sgt.) Ernie Happala and I have a Scappoose connection. I applied for this job again, and now I'm back in a uniform doing police work."
Before his job interview Dean did his homework, learning about King City's "unique demographic." He added, "I checked the 2000 census, and the average age was 76. In 2010 it was 63.9."
He added, "My background puts me in a unique position here, although I am now learning how things are done in Washington County and this geographic area. I hope to be here a long time. People here really appreciate their police officers."
Dean even has back-up at home as his wife is an elder abuse detective. "Protecting vulnerable people runs in the family," he said.