Bruce Riley was appointed Linn County Sheriff on January 1, 2014, following the retirement of former Sheriff Tim Mueller. On November 4, 2014 he was elected to his four-year term. One of his proudest moments was on January 5, 2015 when he was sworn in as the 39th Sheriff of Linn County by his father, retired county clerk Del Riley.
Growing up and becoming a law enforcement officer was always in the back of his mind. He knew that his great-grandfather Robert Walker was the Franklin County, Nebraska Sheriff from 1909 to 1923, and maybe that planted a seed of inspiration. “I’ve always had a sense of wanting to help people in times of need and protect them from harm. Some say it’s a calling, and I believe that is true. Law enforcement is in my blood,” he said. “Watching Adam-12 on television as a kid hooked me!”
For Bruce to join the ranks of respectable men and women serving their communities by keeping people safe was something he knew would be rewarding and would provide him a sense of doing something for the betterment of his community. Creating calmness out of chaos is an extraordinary feeling.
A lifelong resident of Linn County, Sheriff Riley began his full-time law enforcement career with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He graduated from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Basic Police Academy Class 134 in December 1987. Three years later he
implemented the first D.A.R.E. program for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, raising thousands of dollars for D.A.R.E., and taught the anti-drug curriculum to children in Linn County schools for two years.
Over the years he was promoted through the ranks within the Patrol Division, serving as a deputy, corporal, and 1st sergeant. In 2005 he was promoted to the rank of captain and served as Patrol Division Commander. He was privileged to attend the 227th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, graduating in December 2006. Being able to attend the FBI National Academy was a highlight in his career. “The training was challenging, but meeting and learning from law enforcement professionals from all over the world was an experience I will never forget,” he said.
Sheriff Riley was promoted to undersheriff on January 1, 2009, and was tasked with overseeing all the divisions within the office: Patrol, Detective, Corrections, Programs, Civil, and Support Divisions. In June 2009 Sheriff Riley was honored to attend the 62nd session of the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS) hosted by the FBI. Having been involved in many aspects of police work, he has served as an instructor in several disciplines and currently holds an Associates of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.
Early on in his career, he never aspired to become Sheriff. He said he was always just trying to do the best job possible. As he was promoted, he always looked up to his supervisors and tried to think and make decisions like the position above him. It wasn’t until he became Undersheriff that he obtained a broad knowledge of how the entire office works. From the Corrections Division, Support Division and Civil Division, he began to gain a unique perspective of how a sheriff’s office operates. “Upon Sheriff Mueller’s retirement, I considered that an open door for me to pursue. I believe I was the right man for the job, with the experience and expertise I had from my years of service to our office,” he said. Sheriff Riley is dual certified in both Police and Corrections through the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards & Training and currently holds Executive Certification in both disciplines.
In 2014, Riley attended the 106th National Sheriff’s Institute in Aurora, Colorado. The institute is sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Institute of Corrections and focuses on executive level management and leadership designed specifically for the office of Sheriff.
Immediately after being appointed Sheriff in January 2014, he began to campaign for his actual election to the office of Sheriff and at the same time, began running a campaign for Linn County’s Law Enforcement Levy. This was a big challenge in the first five months of being sheriff.
The office has relied upon the levies since the mid-1980’s. “When I was hired full-time on June 1, 1987, I was handed a layoff notice that same day, advising me I would be laid off if the levy at that time didn’t pass.”
In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office was forced to lay off 13 employees due to budget cuts. This included closing a wing of the jail which reduced it by 48 beds. The request to the voters was to increase the levy amount so Linn County could bring back some of those laid-off positions and reopen the closed wing. The levy passed by a 19 point margin. The passage of the levy allowed Sheriff Riley the funding to reopen the 48-bed block in the jail, increasing capacity to 230 beds. They also hired eight new corrections deputies, along with filling many other vacancies office-wide.
The levy represents approximately 51% of Sheriff’s Office funding. “I am very appreciative to the citizens of Linn County, who continually support law enforcement. They understand that providing this funding allows Linn County to continue to be a safe place to live and raise a family. I am very pleased about opening that closed wing. As Sheriff, my job is to keep the peace in Linn County, which is done in part by having an empty jail bed available; it is a huge deterrent to crime.”
“We had a sobering reminder of that just recently when two of my deputies were fired upon while trying to apprehend an extremely dangerous subject. A gun battle ensued, and I believe, if not for proper equipment and training along with an act of providence, two brave and courageous deputies would not have gone home safely that night to their families,” he said.
“And as proud as I am of their acts that day, I’m just as proud of all the fine men and women of my office who quietly go about their job every day, working to keep Linn County a safe.”
He knows that they can’t do it alone, and he’s very thankful for the support and respect the majority of Linn County citizens have for their deputies. This is not received overnight but earned over years of providing law enforcement services in a professional, compassionate and transparent way.
“My commitment to my citizens is to always have 24-hour patrols. If someone wants to speak with a deputy, we will respond to every call for service. Also, when someone calls my office anytime day or night, you will reach a live person who will get you the help you need or answer any questions you may have.”
There have been multiple accomplishments throughout his career as sheriff.
- Took over Animal Control and brought it under the umbrella of the Patrol Division. Having reached out to many shelters and kennels with adoption being a huge priority, the euthanasia rate plummeted to the point of having zero dogs euthanized in 2015.
- Passed the law enforcement levy in May 2014
- Radio and 911 upgrades
- Became CJIS (Criminal Justice Information System) compliant
- Reinstated the Citizens Academy
- Began a new program called Focused Patrols. Focused Patrols brings key people together from several agencies including Parole and Probation, DA’s office, Neighborhood Watch, patrol and detectives on a weekly basis to discuss crime trends, problem areas and wanted subjects, and proactively target these areas with reduction of crime being the goal. This has been and continues to be a very successful form of communication. The Sheriff’s Office conducted over 640 focused patrols last year. Focused Patrol uses data to identify problem areas within the county, connect incidents and discuss tactics gathered by commanders, supervisors, and investigators.
- Reinstated two new K9’s, one drug detection and one tracking.
- Acquired and opened a new Tangent Substation, which also serves as a redundant backup for dispatch.
- Conducted annual awards desserts for staff and volunteers.
- Gained accreditation status through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. This process began in January 2014, and in April of 2016 the office received accreditation from their board. This consists of complying with 104 best practice standards comprised of over 400 separate bullets. This was verified by an onsite assessor who reviewed every file and conducted an onsite inspection of the office. Linn County Sheriff’s Office joined seven others from around the state to receive this honor. “I am very proud of this as I have always felt we are a topnotch agency, and this gives us that stamp of approval. By meeting the accreditation standards proves that we follow the latest industry standards and best practices set forth. My staff should be proud and confident in the job they do, and the citizens of Linn County can be proud of the quality of service we provide. It is something they should expect and deserve, knowing we have completed this goal. One of the most important things I can provide the office is a set of sound policies and procedures that is recognized through accreditation,” said Sheriff Riley.
- Launched a new Records Management System Project. Linn County is primary and there are several other agencies. This is expected to go live in April 2017.
- Started a new “Fun Shoot” program with veterans. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with the new Oregon Veterans home in Lebanon. They provide the time for veterans who have a love for shooting, to come to the range with the deputies. Veterans are provided with an array of guns to shoot and also given lunch. “I presented them with a Sheriff’s Office hat, coffee cup, and challenge coin, thanking them for their service. It was the first time we did this and with all the positive feedback we plan on making this an annual event,” said Riley.
Upcoming challenges include launching the process to replace the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) and records management system. For Linn County, this has never been replaced since the advent of computers and will greatly enhance their ability to provide quality service in the 911 center, records management, crime, property, evidence, civil and corrections.Sheriff Riley volunteers in his community by serving as an elected board member of the Tangent Rural Fire Protection District, executive board member of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, executive board member of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Albany Optimist Club and a graduate of Albany Chamber Leadership.
Sheriff Riley’s wife, Renee, is an office manager at a local elementary school. Together they have three adult children, two of whom are pursuing a career in the criminal justice field, and one granddaughter. Their son, Brent, an Army combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, is now continuing his education. Daughter, Holly, is employed as a Victims Advocate at the Linn County District Attorney’s Office. Their youngest son, Caleb, is a reserve/marine deputy at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and father of their granddaughter, Brooklyn.