UOPD Assistant Chief Candidate tentatively chosen

The University of Oregon Police Department has selected a preferred candidate for the new assistant chief position. Upon successful completion of the background check, Police Captain Chou Her of the University of California Merced Police Department is expected to be hired.

“I have spoken with the chief there, and she has offered me the position,” Her said.

UOPD did not confirm this. Kelly McIver, head of communications for UOPD, said, “Obviously, when a hiring department communicates with a candidate who will be moved to the background phase, it is clear that the intention would be to offer employment with satisfactory completion of the remaining requirements, so I understand how Lt. Her would express it that way. It is a technicality that an official offer of employment is not made until the background is completed and accepted.”

Her is the only candidate who has progressed to this phase of the hiring process.

UOPD hasn’t had an assistant chief since 2012. Chief Carolyn McDermed was the last person to hold the position, and it was not refilled when McDermed was promoted to chief. The position was revived this year after Captain Pete Deshpande retired.

The assistant chief will help McDermed cultivate relationships with the community on and off campus, oversee internal and external operations and take over command of the department when McDermed is unavailable.

“I’m looking for someone who’s open minded, has a commitment to diversity, is motivated to move the department forward in our current transition,” McDermed said. “Someone who can really lead by example in our department and be a role model for our officers.”

From March to August, Her served as the UC Merced Police Department’s interim police chief. Before his position at the university, Her worked at various law enforcement agencies in the area, including the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

Her was born in Laos, and his family moved to Portland when he was three years old. From there, they moved down to Merced, a place Her has called home since. He is fluent in both English and Hmong.

Her first visited campus last October. “My first glimpse of the area was something I was very, very happy with,” Her said. “Touching down at the airport, seeing the town as I’m driving in, I was very much in love with it.”

During his visit Her gave a talk on campus about his policing philosophy. He is an advocate for community policing, a style of law enforcement that focuses on making connections within the community the department serves.

“I’m a big firm believer in community policing,” Her said. “If you’re just there simply providing a service and interacting with people, that’s not community policing. Community policing is truly getting down to the nuts and bolts of interacting with people and being part of the town. From what I’ve seen of what UO is, there’s a lot of opportunities to do those things.”

Her has had the UC Merced Police Department make appearances at athletic events and even march in the town parade.

University police departments differ from city departments in size and scope of their work. University departments are able to mingle more and really get to know members of the campus community, Her said. At his speech in October, Her told the audience, “Officers can be more than that guy who gave you a ticket.”

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Noah Mcgraw

Noah Mcgraw