Police chief takes a second attempt at retirement
In 42 years of working in public safety, Peter Spirup has seen law enforcement through many lenses.
The Newberg native, who grew up in St. Paul, has worked as an Oregon State Police trooper, detective, patrol sergeant and criminal investigator. He's also handled duties in professional standards, patrol division commander, labor relations and bureau commander, which is responsible for supervising a variety of divisions.
Spirup has overseen crime labs, criminal justice information services, medical examiner roles, gaming security and enforcement and agency support services, including human resources, payroll and personnel services.
But Spirup will tell you that some of the most rewarding work he's experienced in law enforcement came over the past nine and a half years as Gervais' chief of police.
Spirup was honored by Gervais and a number of area chiefs in May, when the city held a gathering in honor of his retirement. His official final day on the job was June 3.
This actually marks his second go at retirement.
"I retired from the state police in 2008 and came back after a while to work in the small city," said Spirup, who provided consulting and investigation services to public sector agencies before taking the helm in Gervais in December 2009. "It's been a really good experience. Gervais is a great little community and working for this city is like working for a family.
No one understands that type of community appreciation more than a police chief.
"I think he really did enjoy his time in Gervais. He was able to have an impact and help grow the department and address issues within the community and the city — and that's a good thing," said Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris.
Ferraris was among the half-dozen area chiefs who heralded Spirup's service during the May coffee-and-cake sendoff.
"I was there not only as a community partner, but also as a representative of Oregon Association Chiefs of Police," Ferraris said. "We presented Peter a plaque as a token of appreciation for his service with our organization over the past nine years."
"It was very nice to see the other chiefs," Spirup said. "Gervais is a small police department and we've had a lot of support from other chiefs and other police departments."
"There certainly has been a lot of (coordination), whether it's for culture services or investigative support or training support, our department has worked closely with Chief Spirup and his team," he said. "Resource-wise, I always make it a point to reach out to the smaller departments, especially with training. We always invite smaller departments and Chief Sirup always took advantage of that."
That coordination to maximize resources has been a point of pride for Spirup, not just with other law-enforcement agencies but other community entities as well.
"In Gervais, we've had a strong relationship with the schools and we built that strong relationship with a desire to address concerns for school safety. That's turned out really well," he said.
Gervais School District Superintendent Matt Henry agreed.
"Chief Spirup has been a delight to work with in the five years I have been superintendent," Henry said. "He is a law enforcement officer of the highest caliber, tirelessly and consistently striving to insure our contract between the police and the district is always fulfilled in the very best ways possible.
"The chief has been a very reliable partner in insuring our students, staff and schools are kept safe. We have worked on a variety of small and big issues. He always brought exceptional knowledge and solutions to all challenges."
To Spirup, those solutions fortify a community.
"It's good to have a strong sense of community, whether you are out on patrol or whether you are at community events," he said. "And we've been fortunate to have some good police officers there. The city government and City Council have been very supportive of the police department, and that's made it good over the years."
If there is one drawback, Spirup said smaller departments like Gervais find it more difficult to hold onto good police officers.
Spirup said this go at retirement should stick. The Canby-area resident wants to do some work around the house and spend more time with the grand kids.
There is one thing he will miss, however.
"There are a lot of good people in the law enforcement community — really good people," he reflected. "That's been one of the best things. I've worked with a lot of fantastic people over the years."
Some would include Spirup in that category. "I do wish him the very best in his time of retirement," Henry stressed. "He has certainly earned it."