Umatilla County Sheriff candidate Gary Longhorn Jr.'s experience in law enforcement dates back more than 10 years, though he might be best known for his role as police chief in Pilot Rock - a position he resigned in March 2006 under some controversy.

Longhorn started his career in Umatilla, working as a reserve officer in 1995. In 1996 the city of Madras hired him as a full-time officer. He then went to Jefferson County where he worked as a sheriff's deputy, a role he said may help him if he is elected.

"A lot of the same issues we have now, they had then," he said.

From Jefferson County, Longhorn took a break, then was hired by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, where he spent a little over a year as a patrol sergeant. He was hired as an officer at Pilot Rock in October 2003.

By June 2004, he was named chief - a personal goal.

"I came to Pilot Rock, my home town, with the intention to promote to chief," he said. "Pilot Rock is a great city to raise a family. My intentions were very clear, to promote to chief, and I did."

In looking back at his nearly two years fulfilling that role, Longhorn said he has no regrets.

"I loved my job as chief," he said. "Unfortunately, things didn't work out."

He said he didn't have problems with the community.

When asked if he had problems with the mayor, Longhorn said it wasn't a good fit.

"I had a lot of expectations, they had a lot of expectations," he continued. "It was just a difference in management styles. These things happen. It just wasn't a good fit."

Now, he said he's ready to move on.

"I ended up resigning," Longhorn said. "I'm ready to move on. This (running for sheriff) is a chance to take my career to a new level."

But moving on wasn't as easy as Longhorn would have hoped. In May 2007, the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training held a meeting and reviewed an investigation into Longhorn's conduct while he was chief in Pilot Rock.

He said he didn't find out about the investigation until DPSST sent him a letter in November 2006. DPSST began reviewing the case earlier that year.

According to an investigation conducted by Stuart Roberts, Longhorn allegedly took a police vehicle on personal business, though Longhorn said in the investigation he intended to meet with a Hermiston police sergeant. It also accused Longhorn of being untruthful with the city council about whether or not one of his officers had read the department's police manual.

Upon finding out about the allegations, Longhorn said he was very upset.

"I was shocked," he said. "I was upset because law enforcement is what I love to do. To have the possibility of that taken away was stressful."

DPSST minutes indicated Longhorn provided mitigating circumstances for the committee to consider. In the end, the DPSST committee found no reason to revoke Longhorn's certification.

"I'm in good standing with DPSST," he said.

He finished corrections training with DPSST on March 14, which he noted is a testament to that good standing.

"If there had been some issues or problems, I would not have been able to attend the academy," Longhorn said.

While all this was going on, Longhorn said he'd been working at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Because of the investigation, he said, he was released from service. But as soon as he was cleared, he found a job at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.

Longhorn said he hopes these allegations won't affect the public's trust.

"I would hope citizens wouldn't take that solely in their decision whether they can trust me," he said. "I'm running for sheriff for the citizens first and foremost."

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.