By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
So what’s it like being a cop in Keizer these days?
Carrie Anderson, a 20-year veteran at the Keizer Police Department, can tell you no two days are alike.
Last week the Keizertimes took an in-depth look at changes within the KPD, especially in regards to a shift towards problem-oriented policing, or POP.
As part of finding out how that changes has impacted the daily work done by patrol officers, the Keizertimes went for a ride-along with Anderson, currently the only female in uniform at the KPD.
Having moved to Keizer when she was less than 1 year old, Anderson has a deep connection with the city. Her parents, married for more than 50 years, still live in the same house in Keizer on Chehalis Court where they moved to more than 40 years ago.
Anderson went to McNary High School and later Western Oregon State College (now Western Oregon University). While in school, Anderson became a reserve officer at the KPD. She was hired part-time by former police chief Chuck Stull while still in school. Once she graduated, Anderson was hired on full-time.
“This is my 20th year here,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “I’m not sure how it happened.”
For Anderson, being in patrol suits her perfectly.
“I prefer patrol,” she said. “A desk job is not something I’d like to do. Out here, I can do my own thing. I can talk to people. I would pull my hair out if I worked a desk job. It’s a different day out here every day. Even after 20 years, you never know what you’ll experience. It just depends on the day.”
A perfect example came when the Keizertimes rode along with Anderson on a recent Tuesday morning. Over the course of several hours, no calls came in.
That was in vivid contrast to the day before, when Anderson was slammed with calls throughout her 12-hour shift. Others with the KPD spent that Tuesday morning cleaning up an apartment filled with drugs and stolen items Anderson had uncovered the day before.
“Nothing was easy yesterday,” said Anderson, who also had to drive a prisoner to Woodburn late that afternoon. “You never know what you’re going to get. Last weekend was relatively slow, so I caught up on loose ends and paperwork. Then yesterday was crazy. Yesterday was just one call after another.”
The main call was stolen items and drugs at an apartment on the 1000 block of Ring Street. A guy who had recently been released from jail visited his apartment for the first time since being released and found a number of things that shouldn’t have been there.
“Kudos to him,” Anderson said. “He’s trying to get his life back on track. The amount of drugs in there was a substantial amount.”
Anderson said it was quickly obvious things in the apartment weren’t on the up and up.
“There were some nice bikes, a new pressure washer – not the things you would typically have in your apartment,” she said.
While processing the scene, Anderson had a flashback to a call she responded to in January.
“I remembered taking a stolen report on one of those bikes from Keizer Station,” she said. “Yesterday I called the owner of the nice green bike. He had gone into GameStop and leaned the bike against a window. He saw the guy ride off with it. It was cool to be able to call him and tell him we found his bike. He didn’t believe me at first. Those are the feel good moments. They don’t happen very often.”
Part of the reason, Anderson points out, is people don’t typically call the police department to share positive news.
“The normal human brain can’t process this stuff,” she said. “We see death, heartbreak and destruction every day. People don’t call us to tell about their day. They call because they have a problem. You need to find a way to let it go.”
Anderson, who finds her release by showing horses, exercising and working on her property, noted as a patrol officer she’s often the first one at a scene.
“I’m the factfinder,” she said. “I go and see what we’ve got. Do I need extra hands? With the apartment yesterday, it was clear I’d need extra help. I told the sergeant I needed more hands, so we discussed a plan. We’re the pillars.”
For Anderson, she wanted to be a pillar in her hometown. And yes, her parents have ridden with her on a shift before to see what it’s like.
“When I decided I wanted to go into law enforcement, I wanted to be in Keizer,” Anderson said. “I wanted to protect my people. Sometimes it’s interesting policing the place you grew up. You might come across a drug situation and find it was someone you went to school with. On the flip side, you get to see people you grew up with doing great things. It’s good to be able to see how the city has grown and changed.”