Police Graduations Reflect Full Staffing

Two of Sweet Home’s newest police officers graduated from the police academy on Friday, May 24, officially sealing the deal that Sweet Home Police Department is now fully staffed.

Officers Bryce Barreto and Jayson Sanchez were hired, respectively, in January 2024 and October 2023.

During the pandemic, many police agencies across the nation reported a shortage of officers as their employees changed careers or moved to departments that offered better pay and incentive programs. Sweet Home was no exception.

“It started several years ago,” Ogden said. “We had people get out of law enforcement and go on to the private industry, and then we had some folks that went on to other agencies. So we’ve been trying to play some catch-up and we’re finally there.”

SHPD hasn’t lost anyone in more than a year now, he noted. Other agencies are still struggling to find people who want to get into the career or qualified applicants.

“I’m thankful that we’re caught up and I’m hoping we can stay that way for a little while,” Ogden said.

New police hires, however, do take more time to complete their training as they work side-by-side with veteran officers for hands-on experience, he said. This process effectively keeps the department “short staffed” in the sense that officers in training are not out patrolling on their own yet.

At Friday’s graduation, Ogden was asked to give the commencement speech for Oregon’s BP437 class. He shared a story that he identified as one of the most pivotal moments in his life that “profoundly shaped” what he does in both his career and personal life.

Looking back to his first job out of high school, Ogden said he, essentially, endured “emotional abuse” from the boss that made the experience horrible, but his saving grace came from a mentor.

“Many people think that leadership is about being the loudest person in the room or maybe being the most charismatic or the smartest person in the room, or leadership is inherent because you are promoted or hold a certain position of authority,” he said. “I’m here to say that none of those things are actually true.”

Ogden explained that leadership is about seeing people for who they are and having empathy for their situation, and then committing to improve their life and circumstances. As officers, the new class will be getting paid to do just that, being on duty to ask the question, “How can I be for you?” though Ogden added they should incorporate this form of leadership in their personal life as well.

“Chief Ogden spoke beautifully about leadership and how important compassion and kindness is when serving the community as a leader,” City Manager Kelcey Young said on the city’s social media page. “I feel so blessed to live in a community where he is our police chief and feel so honored to get to work with him every day.”