OREGON – Oregon has a new police chief, but he is certainly a familiar face.
Shawn Melville, who grew up in Oregon and has been with the Oregon Police Department for more than 20 years, was promoted to chief on March 31. The previous chief, Darin DeHann, was appointed city administrator.
Melville graduated from Oregon High School and started his career with the Mount Morris Police Department. He started with the Oregon department in 1998.
Melville has two children – Jordan, 26, and Jensen, 22 – and said he spends much of his off time with longtime girlfriend Tiffany Cravatta, owner of the Blackhawk Steakpit.
Melville sat down to answer some questions about himself and his profession.
Question: How did you first become interested in a career in law enforcement, and why this field?
Answer: I am a very competitive person, having played football and baseball most of my life. And I think being competitive is a great asset in the law enforcement profession. To be a successful officer, you have to have a certain amount of the attitude that, there are bad people out there, who want to take advantage of, and harm, the more vulnerable members of our society, and it’s my job to stop them. This competitive aspect is what first drew me to this profession.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the job?
A: As a younger officer, I really enjoyed the excitement that this career could offer. However, at this point in my career, what I truly enjoy most is helping people, and making sure we have a safe community. I love to hear that our citizens feel safe walking around at night, and feel their children are safe playing in the yard or down the street at the park.
Q: What are the special challenges of being an officer in a smaller town like Oregon?
A: There are several things that make being an officer in a smaller community challenging. For one, when you are an officer in a small town there are no specialized units that handle different types of situations, you have to be an expert at everything. There is no burglary unit to handle a burglary call, there isn’t a traffic unit to handle your accident reports, there isn’t a domestic violence unit, you handle all of these cases by yourself. Another aspect that can make it tough is you are sometimes the only officer working at a given time. Although Oregon is a safe community, we are only 90 miles away from Chicago, and 30 miles away from Rockford, and these are two of the most violent communities in the country. The citizens that cause problems in those cities, sometimes come to and through Oregon, and this can put officers in dangerous situations, situations that they have to handle at times, by themselves.
Q: Can the community expect any changes now that you are the chief?
A: The community should not expect to see many changes with the Oregon Police Department. We have a great group of officers and I am very happy with the way things are currently done. We did hire a new officer, replacing Chief DeHaan when he left the department. We were lucky to hire an officer that was already certified, and experienced. That saves the city a lot of money that would have been spent on training, and it makes the transition much smoother.
Q: Finally, what do you like to do to unwind after work? Do you have any hobbies?
A: I am a big fan of the Chicago Cubs and am a fan of most sports in general. I enjoy lifting weights and running in Park West. I coached baseball and softball for many years as my children were growing up.