Philomath Police Lt. Dave Gurski
Dave Gurski started working for the Philomath Police Department in 2004. He was recently promoted from sergeant to lieutenant. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

During the Philomath Police Department’s most recent accreditation review, Dave Gurski’s name came up during conversations with Chief of Police Ken Rueben.

Gurski, a sergeant with the local police department, appeared to be doing work beyond his job title.

“You don’t think about these things too often in the corporate world, but in government work, you want to make sure their job description — what they’re physically supposed to be doing every day — matches what they actually do,” Rueben said.

As a result, Gurski earned a promotion to lieutenant.

“In December, we did the formal promotion process and it didn’t change his pay or anything, but just the recognition that Dave does an amazing job here, I think that was also a part of it,” Rueben said. “I think it was a nice reward for Dave.”

“The key thing in a small town is the guy cares about the town.
And he wants to do exactly what I do, which we think our No. 1
job is for people in this town to feel safe and reduce crime.”
— Ken Rueben, Philomath police chief

Gurski started as an officer in Philomath in May 2004. Born in Bend and raised in Corvallis, he moved to Philomath in 1998 with his wife and infant daughter. Today, Rueben and Gurski head up a Philomath Police Department staff of nine.

While a sergeant, Gurski’s job duties had advanced to include a large administrative component. Through research and making comparisons with other police departments, Rueben discovered that the perfect match to fit his responsibilities was lieutenant.

“Dave had been going to meetings all the time and he’s by far the lowest-ranked person in the room, even though he does the same things that these other agencies do,” Rueben said. “That sounds silly because your rank shouldn’t really matter that much but it is important that what we have on paper that he’s doing every day, that matches his pay scale and it matches what he physically does at the job.”

Lieutenants perform many types of administrative tasks, such as scheduling, approving certain expenditures, helping with grant applications and organizing long-term planning with other agencies on policy and tactical issues. He can also reprimand or institute disciplinary actions, if necessary, although final approval does come from the police chief.

Gurski also sits on various committees that deal with particular policy areas and has been part of decisions that sergeants typically would not make.

Rueben had promoted Gurski from police officer to sergeant six years ago. He stressed the importance of choosing the right person for promotions.

“In a small agency, leadership and having the right person in the supervisory positions is absolutely critical to everything you do,” Rueben said. “I learned from Day 1 from a supervisor that I really respect, it’s not really you, it’s who you choose to be supervisors that work for you … they really set the tone for your agency and set the culture.”

Rueben saw a strong work ethic in Gurski that he described as “off the charts.”

“I actually have to send him home,” he added. “He just works his butt off.”

But beyond the hard work, the police chief also sees another very important ingredient.

“The key thing in a small town is the guy cares about the town,” Rueben said. “And he wants to do exactly what I do, which we think our No. 1 job is for people in this town to feel safe and reduce crime.”

Rueben and Gurski have often talked about strategies and goals to make sure they’re lined up with one another.

“Dave and I feel strongly about that part of it,” Rueben said. “A lot of police agencies in my view have lost their way in their core job function. The core job function should be reducing crime and making the town more safe to live.”