Oja's 'move' from captain reflects broader responsibilities of jobThe Astoria Police Department has an assistant police chief - Alan Oja.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Oja has been with the department since 1977, and has been known as Captain Oja since 1989.
Monday night the Astoria City Council approved the change in his title at the request of Astoria Police Chief Rob Deu Pree. The change doesn't mean extra pay and doesn't change Oja's benefits, but it could mean a little extra work, Deu Pree said, and it may give Oja more influence with other police goups.
Oja has picked up more responsibilities over the years, Deu Pree said, and even though Oja has resisted the change in title, it's really more appropriate to the task he does. For example, Oja filled in as chief for two months while Deu Pree was in Kosovo, helping teach the concept of community policing to police in that country.
"He was essentially the acting chief of police," Deu Pree said. "And he did a great job."
He was also the acting chief in Warrenton for several months while Scott Church, who was then chief, was recuperating from a stroke.
When Oja started out as captain, he was in charge of field operations, which consists of patrol and investigations. The department also has a secretarial function, which is run by an administrative assistant and an emergency communications center, run by the communications manager.
Because those supervisors are not sworn officers, they can't be placed in the position of acting police chief, Deu Pree explained.
Deu Pree said the change in Oja's title has nothing to do with possibly making a transition easier if Deu Pree wins the race for Clatsop County Sheriff in November.
"I don't think, at least certainly in my mind, there's a connection between Alan being assistant chief and Alan being chief. I think he'll be judged on his merits of however well he does the second-in-command job, and that's really how it ought to be," Deu Pree said.
After being captain for 15 years, Oja said Tuesday it'll take time to get used to being called Assistant Chief. But he said it's a good change.