A lieutenant has been sworn in to replace Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast, who retired this week after a law enforcement career spanning three decades — virtually all of it spent with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
After serving in the United States Air Force, Kast began his career working the jail for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia. After a few years, he returned home to Oregon after being hired as a patrol deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Officen.
In 2003, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, where he supervised multiple teams including the street crimes unit, K-9, field training and evaluation and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and four years later, he was elevated to lieutenant, being attached to oversee various divisions including patrol, administration and the jail.
Among his many duties, Kast was an active member of the SWAT team for 19 years, including leading the team as the SWAT commander from 2008 to 2016. He was promoted to enforcement division commander in 2018.
He was appointed sheriff in 2019 when Sheriff Jason Myers retired. During his tenure as Marion County sheriff, Sheriff Kast led the agency through several historic natural disasters, most notably, the Beachie Creek wildfires.
Following in his footsteps is former lieutenant new Sheriff Nick Hunter, who was sworn in Friday and has also spent the majority of his career with Marion County.
Hunter began his law enforcement career with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in November 2001, volunteering as a reserve deputy while also working as a facility security aide for the Marion County Jail.
He left Marion County to serve as a reserve police officer and then full-time police officer with the Independence Police Department before returning to his home agency in 2008.
He soon began working as a field training officer and instructor for multiple disciplines. He was certified as a drug recognition expert, joined the county’s SWAT team, and was assigned to oversee the agency’s use of force program.
Hunter promoted to patrol sergeant in 2012 and to lieutenant in 2015. While serving as a lieutenant, he spent time working assignments in both the enforcement and operations divisions, supervising and contributing to the development of multiple teams.
In 2016, Hunter was appointed to commander of Marion County SWAT after serving as a team leader for four years. He was the incident commander for multiple critical incidents, including the massive fire evacuation of the Santiam Canyon in 2020.
Hunter holds an executive certification from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Willamette University. He has a passion for education and teaching, which he views as a critical component to enhancing partnerships within the community.
He has also participated as a national instructor in the field of human performance and de-escalation. Hunter grew up in Clackamas County before moving to Marion County in 1995 to attend Willamette University. He lives in Sublimity with his wife and two children.
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