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Dale Schuster picked as Port Orchard PD commander
In 1983, Dale Schuster was a reserve officer with the Port Orchard Police Department.
Little did he know that 28 years later he would be promoted to commander.
Schuster, 53, was officially named commander on May 19 by Police Chief Geoffrey Marti.
It was the response to an ad for a reserve police officer that caught Schuster’s eye while a student at Olympic College in Bremerton. He applied and they hired him in 1983.
“I was shocked because I had hair down to my shoulder at the interview,” Schuster said.
Two years later, he decided to become a full-time officer. Schuster graduated from the Police Academy in 1985 and became a full-time police officer with the city at age 25.
“I never thought I’d ever be a police officer,” he said. “I decided I liked it and took the test and passed it.”
When Schuster joined the POPD, it was a 10-member agency. The town had two traffic lights, no highway bypass bridge and a population of about 2,000 people.
“I never thought I’d see it grow to be a 22-member agency in my time,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes.”
Since joining the department full-time, Schuster has worked as a patrol officer, a narcotics officer, a suit-and-tie detective, a marine patrol officer and a motorcycle officer. He feels his many years of experience is helpful with his transition into the commander’s position.
“Over the years, I’ve held every position that the agency had to offer,” Schuster said.
In 2005, Schuster was promoted to sergeant by Alan Townsend, who was police chief at the time.
Schuster’s father was an officer in the U.S. Navy. The family moved to the Seattle area and Schuster attended Bishop Blanchet High School before his family moved into the area.
After graduating from South Kitsap High School, Schuster attended Olympic College and pursued general studies, but considered majoring in computer science.
“Probably should have stuck with it,” he laughed. “But at the time it was a lot of writing programs. I thought to myself I don’t think I can do this for the rest of my life.”
But Schuster doesn’t regret the choice he made.
“They say if you enjoy your job, you never work a day in your life,” he said. “I still enjoy my job and I always have. I love my job and the people and the City has treated me very, very well.”
Schuster noted the best thing about being a police officer is being there to help people.
“The most important times that stick out to me as being an officer are when you are thanked by someone for doing your job,” he said.
Schuster recalled the time when he came across a young woman who was going through a difficult stage in her life.
“Sometimes, you tend to reach someone and want to spend a little bit more time with that person to try and get them set straight,” he said. “She was on the wrong course. I spent about an hour talking to her and giving her ideas to improve her life.”
Afterward, Schuster said he forgot about her.
“I showed up to work one day and she was sitting on the steps of the police department,” he said. “She remembered the talk we had. She had moved to another state and came up to visit her family. She came up here purposely to thank me, because the talk we had, it completely changed her life.”
He said police officers see a lot of negative things, death and traffic accidents.
“Little things come back and remind you it’s about helping the public,” he said. “But those things are the most rewarding.”