Astoria names Spalding as new police chief

Geoff Spalding is Astoria's new police chief.

Geoff Spalding, who has led the Astoria Police Department as interim chief for the past five months, will come out of retirement to take on the role permanently.

City Manager Brett Estes announced that Spalding, the retired chief of the Beaverton Police Department, has agreed to become the city’s next police chief.

“I am honored to be able to continue to work with the men and women of the Astoria Police Department,” Spalding said in a statement. “This is a quality department that is highly regarded by our community.”

Spalding, 60, has been the interim police chief since late August, an agreement that was intended to last six to nine months after former police chief and assistant city manager Brad Johnston suddenly announced his retirement.

Estes said he did not bring Spalding on as interim chief with the intent to hire him, but said that after seeing how Spalding has engaged with the community and the police department it seems like a natural fit.

“Geoff has really jumped right in with the department and in the community,” Estes said in a statement. “I am exceedingly pleased he has agreed to come out of retirement to accept this position with the city. Geoff has done a great job as interim chief and is the right person to lead the department into the future.”

Spalding said he is invested in the work he has begun here. There are projects he wants to see through to the end.

Spalding has nearly 40 years of experience in law enforcement. He has retired twice, most recently from the Beaverton Police Department in 2016 after a seven-year span as police chief. He still serves on the executive board of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. He began his career with the Fullerton Police Department in California. A decade ago, Spalding had applied for and was offered the job as Astoria’s police chief but had to decline the offer for family reasons.

An independent assessment last year found the police department and dispatch center were nearing crisis under Johnston’s watch due to staff shortages, documented leadership failures, politics and conflict. Spalding was asked to further evaluate the department to help Estes assess what was needed in a new police chief.

Since Spalding began as interim chief, the department has also brought on more officers and begun to slowly relieve the strain placed on the understaffed force and dispatch center.

In a quarterly report of the police department submitted to the City Council this month, Estes noted that one of the police department’s “highest priorities is the training of current employees.” Spalding has instituted informal training programs to supplement formalized training outside the department.

He has also worked to streamline the police department’s procedures and processes to make them more efficient and also ensure they are following the law in how they retain records. With Mayor Arline LaMear, Spalding has helped lead a task force to address and investigate the issues surrounding homelessness.

Spalding and his wife, Diane, want to be a bigger part of the community. “After just five months as interim chief, Astoria feels like home,” he said.

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