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Medford police chief to retire Dec. 31

MT file photo Medford police Chief Scott Clauson announced he will retire effective Dec. 31

Medford police Chief Scott Clauson announced his retirement this week after just over two years in office.

Last year, protests, social unrest, the Almeda fire and ongoing issues with homelessness kept local police busy.

“My 2020 was like being a chief for five years,” Clauson said. “I’m looking forward to normal sleep.”

Clauson said a change in the Public Employees Retirement System is one of the main reasons for him to take retirement.

He said a number of officers retired last year when new retirement rules took effect, but he decided to hold off until this year.

“It kind of forces me to leave at this time,” he said.

Despite a grueling 2020, Clauson said he’s enjoyed his time on the job.

“I’m very blessed and fortunate to have worked with the city, and for the support of the council, city manager and the people of this city,” he said.

His last day on the job will be Dec. 31, just before additional rules for retirement take effect.

Even though last year was difficult, Clauson said his officers “handled all of the social unrest and protests with great care.”

The city will begin looking for a replacement within the next 30 to 60 days, and Clauson said that a couple of officers from within the department will apply for the job.

Clauson began his 27-year career as a part-time community service officer and was hired as a police officer in July 1995. He has served on multiple department units — including the crisis negotiation team, financial crimes division, and gang and street drugs — and was a school resource officer. In 2019, he was named police chief.

Clauson said he is most proud of the creation of the city’s Livability Team, made up of three officers, a sergeant and a data management person. The team handles issues related to homelessness and patrols the Bear Creek Greenway and the downtown.

“It’s now become a model for other cities,” he said.

Last May, the council passed an ordinance banning camping along the Greenway during fire season, which was a reaction to the Sept. 8, 2020, Almeda fire.

Clauson said the number of campsites has been reduced from 181 to 109. About 30 of the remaining sites are located on Oregon Department of Transportation property near Interstate 5.

Clauson said he’s been working with ODOT to coordinate getting rid of the remaining campsites over the next week.

He also helped bring the first body camera program to the department in 2016.

Even though he’s retiring at age 51, Clauson said he plans to do management consulting in the near future.

“I am tremendously grateful for his leadership and support as we’ve navigated a global pandemic, social unrest, and implemented new public safety initiatives such as the Livability Team,” said Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.