Molalla Police Chief Announces Retirement; Councilor Resigns

Molalla Police Chief Frank Schoenfeld announced his retirement last week after more than five years serving the community, while Councilor Steve Deller shared in that same meeting that he would be resigning due to moving out of state.

Schoenfeld became emotional as he addressed the City Council and community Wednesday, likening his bond with the police department and city government to “strong family ties.”

“I’m calling you all my close friends,” he said. “I always recognized the significance of my position, and I tried my best to represent you, my department and our citizens. Being part of this team has meant being part of some significant accomplishments with the department and the city of Molalla.”

A former patrol sergeant and detective sergeant for the Canby Police Department, he joined the Molalla force in 2016 before succeeding Rod Lucich as chief three years later. However, he has lived in Molalla for 30 years.

“This is kind of hard for me,” he admitted. “I want you all to know that I have served the agency and this wonderful city of Molalla with great pride for the past almost six years. As I’m sure you would agree, the most difficult part of this decision is stepping down from my role as chief, your chief.

“I will miss it very much. Molalla has much to be proud of due to the hard work that has been done and will continue to be done in the future.”

Prior to his retirement from Canby PD, Schoenfeld had also served as a supervisor assigned to the South Metro Gang Task Force.

His law enforcement career, which spans more than three decades, also includes six years with the Oregon City Police Department and 10 with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, where he served in patrol, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), special investigations, case management and on the Regional Organized Crime and Narcotics Taskforce.

“I started this amazing journey 32 years ago,” the chief said. “I’ve experienced so much, and I just simply could not ask for more. I’ve been so blessed, but it is time now for me to step down and let this team that we’ve built together carry the torch.

“I’ve no doubt that this department will continue to progress and grow into an even better agency than it is now. I have no doubt they will do so with the highest integrity, dignity and honor.”

Achievements Schoenfeld cited include the hiring of four new officers, beginning the process of replacing aging equipment and computers with new technology and a fleet of vehicles, a new officer training program, and the formation of a bicycle patrol unit and human trafficking unit that has been modeled by other agencies.

During his tenure, the department also created a new contingency fund for the eventual construction of a new department headquarters, which Schoenfeld said is “badly needed,” and remodeled the current digs for use by City Hall in the future.

Schoenfeld’s final day with Molalla PD will be Nov. 30. He promised to do all he could to help with the transition to a new chief. City Administrator Dan Huff said the city would not be using an outside recruiter to replace Schoenfeld and expects to share more details about the plan and timeline at the next council meeting.

“Our city is losing a huge asset with Chief Schoenfeld retiring,” Molalla Mayor Scott Keyser told The Canby Current. “He has built such a great attitude within our department. He will be sadly missed.

While Schoenfeld’s retirement was sad but not entirely unexpected, Councilor Deller did surprise with his announcement that he would be stepping down less than a year into the term he won in the November general election.

Deller, who was originally from Canby and attended Oregon State University before settling back in Molalla to raise a family, told his colleagues he would miss the community.

“We moved out here about 13 years ago and thought it would be my forever home,” Deller said. “I really love Molalla. … I’ve really enjoyed working with this team here. I couldn’t ask for better people to work with.”

Deller, who previously served on the Planning Commission, said he appreciates the values of the community and its way of life.

“The values of Molalla are just incredible,” he said. “There’s unity and independence I don’t understand. The people are stubborn and they are helpful and I love it. I wish the state of Oregon espoused the same values as we see here, but it doesn’t.”

Deller said he and his family are moving to Texas.

“We just felt a real calling there,” he said. “God gave us a sign; we got a definite sign, a real push in that direction. And it’s all coming together much faster than we expected. I’ve really enjoyed my time here, and I look forward to coming back to visit.”

Keyser told the Current the city will be announcing the open vacancy at the Oct. 27th council meeting, along with the timeline for the application process. Keyser said he hopes the council will complete the process to seat a new councilor before the end of the year.

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