LeCours promoted to deputy chief
Meet the new deputy police chief: Art LeCours, although you’ve probably seen him several times. He’s been with the Ashland Police Department since 2001 serving in a plethora of roles.
He was promoted in March after the previous Deputy Chief Warren Hensman took on the position of director of public safety in Grants Pass.
LeCours started his career as a reserve volunteer in Silverton in 1995. He then spent a couple of years as a reserve officer in Phoenix before he found himself working full time.
He said while at the police academy he met an Ashland officer who persuaded him to join APD’s ranks, where he’s been a field training officer, detective, fire arms instructor, patrol sergeant and spent the past four years as a detective sergeant.
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said LeCours was chosen from eight applicants from around the country. He said after the interview process, it was clear LeCours was the right person for the job.
“He is respected by the men and women of the department and by his peers in other agencies,” O’Meara said. “Art has the right temperament and background to help the department best connect with the community.”
LeCours worked on cases ranging from shoplifting to homicides, including the unsolved David Grubbs murder of 2011.
“It’s unfortunate that cases go cold, but I always have hope that at some point in time a person will provide the information that we need to close out those cases so that we can give the families closure,” LeCours said.
He said he has seen at least one homicide case in Ashland closed 10 to 15 years after it occurred.
He said the most significant case he has ever worked on was the Umpqua Community College shooting of 2015 in which a student killed an assistant professor and eight students, injured eight others and took his own life.
LeCours received his associate degree at UCC and so was very familiar with the campus. He and the senior detective at the time went to assist Oregon State Police with intercepting all the information and people coming and going through the command center.
“The amount of information that you receive can be overwhelming,” LeCours said. “It’s an eye opener of what could happen in Ashland. How prepared are we? What do we need to do and what agencies would we need to reach out to?
“The second day we were there we tracked down the victims to get statements and you really see how the event impacts the loved ones of those who are hurt,” LeCours said. “It’s hard to step back and not have feelings for that.”
He said the role of a police officer can be tough because it often requires seeing the worst in people.
“Nobody ever calls the police to ask us for tea and to see how we are,” LeCours said.
But that’s the job, he said. It’s all about helping people.
LeCours said he didn’t know he wanted to join the police force until he went on a ride-along with the police department in the Salem area while he was attending Western Oregon University.
His father was a state trooper in Klamath Falls where he grew up, so it made sense he enjoyed the ride-along so much, he said.
LeCours is originally from Rapid City, South Dakota, but his family moved to Klamath Falls when he was about 5 years old.
He said the best part of serving the Ashland community is the diversity of the town.
“You deal with a vast amount of people,” LeCours said. “You deal with everybody from college professors to tourists to locals to people just passing through. Your interactions are never the same. Every day is different.”
But he said that can also be the most challenging part of his job.
“Having to deal with so many points of view and trying to listen to all and bring it all into play so that it works with everybody in the community can be challenging,” LeCours said.
He said he enjoys his work here in Ashland, the community, the department and his chief.
“I see myself sticking around for a while,” he said.
For the time being, he’s focused on picking up projects left by the last deputy chief, working on them and improving them such as the Gateway program and the You Have Options program.
“Taking on those projects can at times be very daunting and time consuming, and can take a while to implement, so that’s where I’m at right now is getting those programs to continue,” LeCours said.
His job requires him to be second in command. He manages the department while the chief is away. He also assists the lieutenant with the operational aspect of the department, and he oversees the support side such as the investigations division, volunteers and the front office staff. He also manages all the training in the department.
He said the department has also been working on community outreach.
From 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 6, LeCours and three others from the department will be at Starbucks at 120 E. Main St. for “Coffee with a Cop.”
The community is invited to come out and meet the police personnel who serve the community.
Additionally, a second community picnic is in the works for sometime late this summer.
LeCours lives in Medford with his wife and their three children.
Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at email@example.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.