Chief stresses prevention

John Teague, who will retire as Keizer’s police chief Sept. 30, is known for focusing on crime prevention and strict adherence to procedure.

Teague started his police career along with eight others at the Keizer Police Department in 1989. He stayed with the department until April 2009, when he became the police chief of Dallas. He returned as the Keizer chief in April 2009 and has been here since.

“I stumbled into it,” he said when asked how he chose law enforcement as a career. “I knew some folks who thought I had the personality for it.” Those folks paid his $13 application fee, so he took the test and passed it.

Teague found “tremendous differences” between Keizer and Dallas, with Keizer having far more resources and, because of the ability of criminals in Keizer Station to elude police, more crime here.

The Keizer department has three divisions: patrol, support and investigations. Each is headed by a division commander, with sergeants reporting to each commander. There are 42 officers in all.

“Changes in policing are tremendous,” Teague said. “When I left Dallas to come here, policing in Oregon changed.”

“We try to get ahead of things,” Teague said about his emphasis on prevention. “We rely upon intuition alongside data. We try to identify where crime is going to peak and then get ahead of it.”

He noted that police departments in general are becoming more prevention-oriented.

Asked about his relationship with the Keizer City Council, Teague said that when he asked for 42 officers a few years ago, the council approved, “and we get along fine at 42.”

He added that he worked with the city early and especially with the private sector in obtaining better street lighting. He said the department has worked at cleaning landscaping to keep vagrants from getting a foothold.

Asked whether he had taken a public position on the firearms-limiting Ballot Measure 114, he said that as a government employee he was not allowed to do so before the vote. Since the election, he has said the measure will do nothing to make people safer.

“Illegal use of guns is more common than it was in recent years,” he said.

Teague noted only one traffic law change that came in with the new year: Police are barred from stopping drivers for having burned-out taillights.

Asked what advice he would have for a young person considering a law enforcement career, he said, “Learn how to write well.” His reasoning was that writing ability would cause other attributes to follow, the most important ones being not being afraid to interfere in a fight and being able to confront a person in a non-confrontational way.

Teague has five adult children. A son is a police officer in Albany, and two daughters are married to troopers.

Retirement plans include turning his farm into a working farm. He said he has a few cows on it as well as fields that need to be worked.