In 42 years of working in public safety, Peter Spirup has seen law enforcement through many lenses.
He's worked as an Oregon State Police patrol trooper, detective, patrol sergeant, and criminal investigation sergeant. 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 be the first one to tell you that no small part of his decades in law enforcement came over the past 9 ½ years as the Gervais chief of police.
Spirup was honored by Gervais and a number of area chiefs on May 14 when the city held a gathering in honor of his retirement. His official final day is June 3.
This actually marks his second go at retirement.
"I retired from the state police in 2008 and came back after awhile to work in the small city," said Spirup, who provided consulting and investigation services to public sector agencies before taking the helm in Gervais on Dec. 1, 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.
"I was working on my own for about a year and a half, and then I got a chance to go to Gervais," he added. "It's a good community and all the people pull together to make it that way – I can't say enough about it."
None 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 area chiefs who stopped in to respectfully acknowledge Spirup's service during the May 14 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 9 years."
Other chiefs on hand were Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore, Sherwood Chief Jeff Groth, Turner Chief Don Taylor, Hubbard Chief Dave Rash and Silverton Chief Jeff Fossholm.
"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 its 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," Spirup 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," Henry added. "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 all around.
"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 has 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.
While Spirup found the state police work rewarding in many ways, he found the earnest city structure and management he's dealt with over much of the past decade quite conducive and agreeable to his temperament.
Spirup, who was born in Newberg and grew up in St. Paul, 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.
After that, who knows? There is one thing he will miss.
"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."
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