Police department hires new officer

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer September 18, 2013 09:44 am

ENTERPRISE -— The Enterprise Police Department has a new face on the force. Officer David Gette joined the department early this month and is looking forward to life as a small town cop.

Gette grew up in Sherwood, outside of Portland, when it was a town the size of Enterprise. In the last three decades it has grown to 40,000, Gette said.

He said he joined the Army after high school and was stationed in Germany for three years. When he got out of the service, he was hired as a reserve deputy for Clackamas County and went through an officer training program while working odd jobs.

He returned to Germany as a civilian in 1994, where he worked as the head of a security firm, a body guard and a milker. Yep, a cow milker. Gette said he did all of these other jobs to support what he went to Europe to do — work as an aerial photographer.

Though he said he loved Germany, he returned to the states in 2001 because he couldn’t pursue his career of choice. “I knew I couldn’t be a cop in Germany. The U.S. may not have the best legal system in the world, but we have the fairest.”

When he returned, he went to work as an officer at Ft. Hunter-Liggett, an all civilian Army base in Central California. 

Later he worked as a game warden at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base in California. The base has a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species. “Conservation and the Marine Corps don’t mix while they are blowing up stuff,” Gette said.

The 593,000-acre base, the largest geographically in the country, is home to the desert tortoise, indigenous pictographs, and 20 or more gold, lead and silver mines, which Gette helped protect.

His next stop was the Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon, where he continued game warden work, but after a couple years the opportunity to move to Enterprise was enticing.

“I wanted to find myself again as a cop in a small town,” Gette said. 

He said he’d moved his wife, Kelly, several times and needed her support. “Without that ‘Yes’ I wouldn’t have moved here.”

Working as a game warden on the reservation, he got to know an outdoorsy set of people. “Everybody wants to recreate, hunt and fish,” Gette said. 

A hunter and fisher himself, he said he got to know people as well as the wildlife in his job as a warden. “If you give a suspect a little respect it goes a long way,” Gette said.

With a solid background in law enforcement and working with people, Gette’s next task is to get to know Enterprise. “I’ve been learning the roads, listening to George (Koehlepp) and Michelle (Bloker) and Wes (Chief Kilgore) and how they work with people. It’s important because they’ve all been here a long time.”

Gette said he and his wife love the views of the Wallowa Valley and the countryside. “I’m getting back to what I call my roots.”