SEASIDE - Robert Gross is the new Seaside police chief, City Manager Mark Winstanley announced Wednesday. He will start Aug. 1.
The Seaside Police Department, which has 19 police officers besides the chief, has been run by Lt. Dave Ham since Jan. 5. Former chief Ken Almberg retired in January amid controversy over his leadership.
Gross has been chief of the Reedsport Police Department on the southern Oregon coast for four years. He worked for the Kennewick, Wash., Police Department for 27 years before that.
"Mr. Gross has more than 30 years of experience and skills in law enforcement," said Trish Downey, Seaside's public information officer, in a press release. "In talking to members of Reedsport city government and the community, he is highly respected as a hard worker who is extremely active in and devoted to community-based policing and development of community partnerships."
Gross is also the pro tem city manager in Reedsport, which has about 4,300 people. He decided not to activate the siren or order an evacuation during the recent tsunami scare. Gross said the town is more protected than Seaside. He has talked to people in the Seaside area and said while Seaside may have some issues to address, the tsunami plan seems well thought out.
Gross has had leadership training from the FBI National Academy in grant writing, budgeting, forensics, community profiling, legal updates and physical fitness. He has written several grants, including one to get three fire sirens in the Reedsport area upgraded to include tsunami warnings.
In Kennewick, he rose through the ranks to assistant chief in an agency of 100 employees serving approximately 55,000 citizens. Gross said he has worked every job from patrol officer to chief, and that experience will help him in Seaside.
Gross said he will work to pass on his experience to local officers. He said officers who know the community provide the kind of police service the community wants.
"I just think it's important for any officer to be involved with the community," he said. "I'm looking forward to coming up and working with the police department and the downtown organization and the chamber."
Gross is married, with three grown children and six grandchildren, all living in Washington. He and his wife, Joy Gross, are looking forward to moving to Seaside and being part of the community. He said the tourists and related activity make Seaside exciting.
"We were looking for a vibrant community like Seaside - an area where we could see ourselves retiring after I've finished out my police career."
Gross wants to get involved in Seaside. In Reedsport, he started the Western Douglas County Cleanup and a Child Safety Fair, and has organized the anti-crime National Night Out. For these events, he has worked in partnership with the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard, railroads and the local fire department and hospital.
He is a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a crime-prevention organization that advocates early care and education programs for preschoolers, good schools, after-school programs, prevention of child abuse and programs for troubled children. Gross said he is part of the organization to "have a louder voice" on a state and federal level for investing in children.
He is involved with community health issues in Reedsport and is a member of the Rotary Club. He enjoys golf and jogging.