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Forest Grove picks Janie Schutz, the first woman to lead force

Forest Grove has a new police chief and she's already making history.

City Manager Michael Sykes announced late Monday that Wadesboro, N.C. Police Chief Janie Schutz is his pick to run the Forest Grove police department.

And as far as anyone can tell, Schutz will be the city's first female police chief.

"She's very excited about the position and I'm really excited about having her come aboard in September," Sykes told the Forest Grove City Council Monday night. "After just a bit of background, I'm even more impressed in with the work she's done in North Carolina. Her charisma and leadership skills will be a big asset for the police department."

Schutz said she was ready to get started in Forest Grove, which, pending the completion of a background check, could happen as soon as the third week in September.

"I'm very excited, very excited," Schutz said.

At an open house two weeks ago, Schutz said she was looking forward to finishing her career in policing in a place like Forest Grove.

Schutz said she and her husband, Jeff, have six children scattered across the country. Schutz hopes by moving to the Northwest she can start to gather her family together again.

One of her sons is working at Microsoft. Another is soon to graduate with a degree in wildlife management. Schutz hopes to lure him to Oregon.

"I definitely will use my powers of persuasion," Schutz said.

Schutz said she left law school to follow her husband when he moved for a job. She started policing thinking it was going to be a second-choice career. Instead, it stuck.

Now it's her husband's turn. Schutz said the couple have a house to sell in North Carolina and her husband has a large animal veterinary practice to wind down before he can join her in Oregon.

"He's a one-man show so it makes it a little more difficult because everything is on him," Schutz said.

Schutz said her two trips to Forest Grove as part of the interview process were her first glimpses of the Pacific Northwest, and she liked what she saw.

"I see this not only as a great opportunity but I'm going to a part of the country that I've never been to," Schutz said.

But Schutz isn't new to stepping into uncharted territory. Taking over the police department in Wadesboro was a new experience, too: her first job as chief and Wadesboro's first female chief.

One thing that will be the same for Schutz in the new job is the number of calls for police service.

Wadesboro and Forest Grove both get about 1,800 calls each month.

But the volume of calls is deceptive. Forest Grove is nearly four times the size of the North Carolina city.

"For a population of 5,800 it's a very busy town," Schutz said of Wadesboro, so the move to Forest Grove "will be interesting."

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