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Longtime police chief ends tenure in April, endorses second in command, Capt. Jeff Kosmicki, to replace him

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Brian Casey recently retired as chief of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department.Brian Casey is now a civilian.

The longtime chief of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department retired in late April after serving in a variety of roles in the department over the course of 29 years.

Casey's second in command for many years, 22-year veteran Capt. Jeff Kosmicki, will serve as interim chief while the city mounts a national search for a permanent replacement. Sgt. Cameron Ferugson will assume Kosmicki's role as captain during the search.

Newly-hired City Manager Dan Weinheimer will be responsible for determining who next will take over the department Casey shepherded for 13 years as chief.

"Throughout his tenure, he has provided consistent and steady leadership of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department (NDPD)," Weinheimer said in a press release. "Throughout his tenure, Chief Casey has provided consistent and compassionate leadership at the police department, creating a culture of service to the community. He has led the department to many successes, including Newberg and Dundee being regularly recognized as one of Oregon's safest communities."

Ascending the ladder of leadership

Casey, a Newberg native and resident for all of his 56 years, joined the NDPD as a reserve officer in 1991. He ascended to detective and became the department's first school resource officer in 1993, patrol sergeant in 1998 and lieutenant in 1999. He served under the flamboyant Dave Bishop for a couple years before becoming deputy chief in 2000 under his predecessor, Robert Tardiff, for more than six years. Upon Tardiff's retirement in 2007, he became one of the youngest chiefs in Oregon at the age of 43.

Today, the department totals 50 employees, including 35 sworn officers, 10 dispatchers and five support staff members. The department also has an average of 10 reserve officers as well, Casey said.

Police officer or ball player?

Much like his older brother, Pat, Brian Casey's aspirations early in life leaned more toward sport than civic duty.

"Law enforcement was a second choice," he said in an email. "Growing up and in early adulthood, like many youngsters, I had aspirations of playing Major League Baseball, but that obviously didn't work out."

Casey comes from a family of over-achievers. In addition to brother Pat, who coached Oregon State to three national baseball championships in a dozen years, brother Chris won a state championship as coach at Aloha High School before he was hired to build the resurgent football program at George Fox University. Brother Tim is a sheriff's deputy in Yamhill County, and father Fred founded a successful real estate business in Newberg.

"They are all successful but very humble guys and we (the brothers) all know the only person who deserves to do any bragging is our mom," Brian Casey said.

Becoming the department's top officer in his home town proved to a plus for Casey. 

"I know a tremendous amount of people here, having been raised in Newberg and gone through the school system and graduating from GFU," he said. "Overall, it was a huge benefit because it contributed to a lot of support for the police department and myself from the community. "

A blending of management styles

Casey said his management style was an amalgam he formed after serving under Bishop and Tardiff.

"Bishop was more hands-on and stern," he said. "Tardiff was much more relaxed and had a totally different management approach than Bishop. Both were great chiefs.

"I worked longer and closer with Chief Tardiff and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and always admired his ability to get things done with finesse. Chief Tardiff was my mentor for administration and I owe him a great deal of gratitude for my success and the opportunities he gave me."

Casey cited several other influencers during his time in the department, including Chris Bolek, who retired from the force only to sign on as Amity's chief for a short time. Sergeants David James, Tim Weaver and John Goad also impacted his career, Casey remarked, adding that no one remains in the department from when he started in 1991.

Accomplishments and disappointments

Casey, adamant to stress that he "did not accomplish anything on my own — it was always a team effort and team result," ticked off a number of highlights while he occupied the chief's chair. First was the safety of the officers that served beneath him: "Everyone went home to their families at the end of the day," he said.  

In addition, he cited that Newberg was named among the state's safest cities over the past decade, the creation of mental health, domestic violence and community response teams; the creation of a computer forensics element and traffic safety division; employing drug dog, patrol canines and the creation of the Unidos Newberg-NDPD coalition.

"I believe the department is very well respected by the community, we have poured ourselves into community outreach and built solid relationships throughout Newberg and Dundee with the school district, George Fox, (Chehalem Park and Recreation District), businesses, the Hispanic community and with our citizens," Casey said.

On the subject of failures, Casey said this: "It's not possible to list all of my failures — you'd have to add another printing press, but I have found that you can learn more from failure than you can learn from success. So while nobody likes to fail, and we all do, some good can come from it."

Tenure not without controversy

Casey hasn't been immune to controversy during his time as chief. He was placed on administrative leave in 2015 by then-city manager Jacque Betz, who claimed she was investigating complaints emanating from officers within the police department. Casey was reinstated a short time later and an embattled Betz resigned in disgrace.

Consternation between city officials and the police department have continued, with former human resources director Anna Lee claiming Casey was harassing her during an investigation into an alleged break-in of Lee's office several years ago. Lee left the city after reaching a settlement; an attorney for Casey and Kosmicki filed a tort notice that his clients are considering suing the city, but no such lawsuit has been filed to date.

Still, the city's apparent dysfunction didn't factor into his decision to retire, Casey said.

"I left on my terms and at a time of my choosing," he said. "I considered my family, my health, current COVID-19 situation and what was in the best interest of the police department. I loved my job and the employees, but it's important to know when it's best to move on and let someone else take over who has new ideas, new energy and a new vision."

He added that the department has been adequately supported during his tenure.

"Not only has the department been supported, but I have been personally supported and I have built many personal friendships with the current and past council members who have been some of our biggest supporters and that continues today," he said. "There will always be an individual out there who has some issues with the police, but the majority of city managers and city councilors have been very supportive of the (police department). I believe the city, council and community are proud of the (police department) for all of our accomplishments and time we have spent building a positive reputation and trust."

Who's next?

Casey effusively endorsed Kosmicki to be the NDPD's next chief, saying his longtime second-in-command was an ideal fit for the job and the city should definitely promote from within the department.

"In fact, I could tell you who the next three chiefs should/could be because we have a tremendous succession plan and career development program at the (police department)," he said, adding that internal promotions are good for morale and foster a more professional environment. "We have great pride at the (police department) concerning internal promotions because we have never had to go outside to promote a sergeant, captain or lieutenant. … The city should embrace and encourage all departments and employees to work toward internal promotions by training, educating and planning for career development."

He added that if the city hired 23-year veteran Kosmicki as chief, there would a continuity of management due to relationships already built in the department. "There is an instant trust," Casey said. "No lapses in the operations of the (police department)."

What's more, he maintained, by hiring Kosmicki the city would save the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to hunt down a potential candidate, all the while recognizing that Kosmicki "knows the community, the work environment and what needs to be accomplished."

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