By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Seeing an officer at school during lunch this coming year isn’t necessarily a negative.
Especially not if it’s Keizer Police Department officer Travis Ricketts with his two children – Allison, 9 and Cole, 6.
Ricketts, a former KPD reserve officer, was hired by the KPD on June 18 and started riding solo July 17, following four weeks of training with officer James Young.
A 1995 McNary High School graduate and Keizer native, Ricketts was a mechanic for 13 years before switching to law enforcement. After being a reserve officer for a year-and-a-half, Ricketts took a job as a full-time officer with the Beaverton Police Department. He commuted from Keizer each day.
Now, Ricketts has come back home. Once he saw the opening at KPD, he talked about it extensively with wife Sara, who also hails from the area originally.
“This is where I wanted to be,” Ricketts said. “I’ve always lived here and been a part of the community. It was hard to leave Beaverton, but it was an easy decision to come back. There were tons of emotions.
“I’m relieved because the process is over. I’m happy and ecstatic because I got the job offer. But it’s sad because I had to leave my friends in Beaverton. I’m excited to be working close to home.”
Ricketts isn’t the only one liking the change.
“The kids were very excited about the news,” he said. “They want me to come to lunch with them one day. Both mention that very much. They want me to come to their school, so they can parade me in front of their friends. I’ll go with them. That won’t be a problem. It will be nice to be able to do that, after so long of not being able to.”
For Ricketts, returning home with a few years of law enforcement under his police duty belt is a perfect combination, which he noticed while training with Young.
“I felt like I was at home, finally,” he said. “There was always a part of me that stayed here. It felt good to feel complete. There was a lot of good training and experience I got up there. I dealt with a variety of people. That put me a step ahead. I’m happy to be back home.”
Police chief John Teague, who himself returned to the KPD last fall after more than four years in Dallas noted how quickly Ricketts could hit the road.
“Hiring laterals for the agency is a benefit,” Teague said. “Within a month he’s solo. When you hire someone green, it takes a year. You have to pay for the training. Some people realize they don’t want to do it. There’s a benefit to hiring a lateral officer.”
Teague also noted the factors coming together in this case.
“To be able to hire a guy with an attachment to Keizer, who has already worked here, that brings a lot of satisfaction,” he said. “You have someone who knows and likes the profession. He already has ties to Keizer, so we know he’ll stay here. That is all tremendous.”
Ricketts was and still is a car guy, but had a change of direction.
“I thought I would always be in mechanics,” he said. “Then I started growing a family, I started getting older and priorities shifted. That’s how I ended up here.”
Amidst the commutes to Beaverton, Ricketts kept an eye on his hometown.
“There was always an aspect of wanting to come back to here,” he said. “It never happened. It never showed itself until this year, when I applied.”