ADAIR VILLAGE — Adair Village has a new police chief.
Mayor Bill Currier administered the oath of office Tuesday to Rich Riffle, a former Benton County Sheriff’s deputy, during the meeting of the Adair Village City Council. The audience consisted of the mayor, the council and three reserve police officers.
Riffle is only the second chief of Adair Village, which was incorporated into Benton County in 1976. The city north of Corvallis started a police department in February 2009 by hiring former Monmouth police Sgt. Justin Jones as its first police chief.
Jones resigned in January amid allegations of misconduct and abuse of city funds. The Oregon Department of Justice launched an investigation into the claims and found that the conduct was not criminal.
Officer Aaron Mollahan acted as the interim chief until Monday, when Riffle started his new job, which pays $30,000 a year for working three days a week. His job entails supervising the reserves as well as running the department.
At the council meeting in the city’s community hall, Mollahan passed Riffle the chief’s badge and congratulated Riffle on being named chief.
“This has only been worn by one other person ... I’m proud to give this to you,” Mollahan said. He will work until the end of the month and is looking for other employment.
Riffle, 53, of Lebanon, retired from the sheriff’s office in 2008 after a 25-year career as a deputy. He served as a resource officer at Santiam Christian Schools. He said he feels comfortable in Adair Village.
“I’m aware of the personality of the community,” Riffle said before the ceremony. “I’ve been to some town hall meetings and question and answer style things.”
Riffle originally had interviewed for the job as a fulltime position, but budget cuts prompted its switch to a .6 full-time equivalent position. He said the part-time capacity suits him but that he is ready to continue the job if it becomes full time.
“I’m in a good position in my life right now for a part-time job,” he said. While in office, Riffle will continue his private investigating practice, which is based in Lebanon, and volunteering organizing events.
However, he said that scaled-back police coverage will mean some adjustments.
“With budget cuts as deep as they have been in the city and the agency, they’re going to have a challenge,” Riffle said. “It’s going to be interesting how we all deal with it.”
The sheriff’s office responds to 911 calls in Adair Village, and the city has a .4 full-time equivalent code enforcement officer. Riffle said that he has a lot of managerial duties, such as leading training sessions, and running the reserve officer program, but he said he will try to do some patrol.
“We’re going to implement a community support-type program; law enforcement can’t do it by themselves,” he said. Riffle plans to implement neighborhood watch programs and hold bike safety events.
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