Colter Forrest , who grew up in Blodgett, was sworn in as a new Philomath Police officer Aug. 1. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Hours after being sworn in Aug. 1 as an officer with the Philomath Police Department, 27-year-old Colter Forrest found himself mingling with the public at the annual National Night Out event in the local city park.

The venue almost seemed too perfect for his first official day on the job. National Night Out activities tend to attract a good number of kids and a few of them have dreams of wearing a badge themselves one day.

Forrest used to be one of those kids.

“Being a part of the community growing up and then being able to get back and protect was something that just really spoke out to me and it was a big, big part of my life,” Forrest said about his younger years. “I was given the opportunity and was going to take any chance I could.”

Forrest grew up in Blodgett and graduated with Philomath High’s Class of 2014. The community connections provide a comfort zone.

“A small town like this, it’s a great starter. I mean, I wouldn’t want to start anywhere else but Philomath right now,” he said. “It’s a really good spot and it’s nice, small-community policing.”

The size of the department also factors in.

“I feel like I have a good backbone with the guys that I work with that are able to give their time to me because we’re not so busy with a lot of criminal activity in Philomath,” Forrest said. “So I’m able to ask my questions, I’m able to get the training done right. And the guys are more than happy to help me out.”

Forrest’s career transition into law enforcement fits the mold of what he sees as his perfect type of job — protecting people. Serving in the military seemed like a strong possibility, he said, but ultimately wanted to be close to his family and community. Pursuing a job with the local police department made sense.

“I was a kid when I knew I wanted to be a cop and it took a while after graduating for me to get there,” he said. “But I wanted to figure out life.”

Forrest has worked in the construction industry since high school.

“It was a startup company so I was able to help build a company and that was an awesome experience,” he said. “It came to a point where I just knew it was time to stop what I was doing because that wasn’t the end career for me.”

Forrest plans to head to the Oregon State Police Academy in November with a graduation date at the Salem campus in late March. Until then, he’ll be working alongside Philomath’s other officers.

“They’re really just going to throw me in the pit as far as taking the calls and making stops and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m ready for the curveballs headed my way.”

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.