Nick Hurley prepares to take over as Corvallis Police Chief

Nick Hurley was appointed by Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard to take over as the next chief of the Corvallis Police Department when Jon Sassaman retires on June 30.

Michael Eubanks, Crime Beat Reporter

Correction: Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard’s name was originally spelled incorrectly throughout this story. The Barometer regrets this error.

For Corvallis Police Captain Nick Hurley, who becomes Chief on June 30, even making a career out of law enforcement was not in his initial plan.

Hurley’s first exposure to law enforcement came in 1995, when he started as a seasonal Cadet Officer for the Oregon State Police while pursuing a degree in American Sign Language at Western Oregon University.

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While he enjoyed his time as a Cadet, Hurley still was uncertain if he wanted to work in law enforcement for the rest of his life and continued to pursue a career as an interpreter. However, Hurley soon learned that being an interpreter wasn’t in the cards for him.

“I did one job and realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career,” Hurley said. “I still sign and I still have a lot of deaf friends, but the interpreting piece was a whole different role that I didn’t mesh well with.”

After changing his mind on interpreting, Hurley went back to school, and received his Master’s in Education from OSU in 1999. He then worked a year in Student Housing as an Assistant Director of Residential Life before making the decision to return to law enforcement.

“At the time I had a lot of contact with Corvallis P.D. in my position,” Hurley said. “I did a couple of ride-alongs and I ended up applying. I started here in 2000.”

For the next fourteen years, Hurley continued to work his way up the ranks at CPD. But in 2014, yet another opportunity presented itself.

Hurley went to work for the Department of Public Safety Standards Training in Salem. As a class coordinator, Hurley educated future police officers and supervised academy training for all five disciplines taught at the institution.

Hurley returned to CPD in 2016, where he began his current role as Captain. Since then, he’s worked closely with current Chief Jon Sassaman.

In his current role, Hurley oversees a division responsible for training, evidence, police records, as well as the Corvallis Regional Communications Center, which provides 9-1-1 services to Benton County. The role also provided Hurley with the chance to attend and graduate from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, which he did in 2019.

The leadership skills learned at the academy helped Hurley become an even better Captain, and when Chief Sassaman announced his plans to retire at the end of June, City Manager Mark Shepard offered the job to Hurley.

But before he made the appointment, Shepard reached out to members of the police department and in the community for suggestions. It then became apparent that Hurley was the right person for the job.

“Nick’s name continued to come up,” Shepard said. “He has a strong reputation in the community already. I think Nick has the background and the skills to lead the department. He understands the culture of our department, and I think it’s important to me to continue to build on what I think is a healthy police department.”

Chief Sassaman was one of those who Shepard reached out to for input.

“I do believe he’s the right person for the job,” Sassaman said. “He brings many years of policing, training and leadership to the position. He is a highly relational person. He has a good presence about him and he’s a critical thinker—all things that are necessary in a Police Chief.”

Hurley was honored to accept the opportunity, but it still came as a pleasant surprise.

“I didn’t come into this job and say ‘one day, I want to sit over there in that corner office,’” Hurley said. “Sometimes I laugh and pinch myself about where I’m sitting currently as a Captain. It’s just funny how our careers change and how they intersect.”

Since being appointed as the new Police Chief, Hurley has been meeting with Sassaman on a daily basis, with the current Chief teaching his replacement the day-to-day duties of his job.

“What I’ve learned from him is invaluable,” Hurley said. “You’re always trying to keep the pulse on things while at the same time getting pulled about nine different ways.”

Hurley said that he doesn’t have any plans to immediately shake up the department organization and operations. For Hurley, the current goal is just to be prepared for the job when he takes over.

With Oregon State Police discontinuing their contract with OSU effective June 30, no announcement has been made regarding who will provide law enforcement services for the campus. While Hurley said he could not comment on the matter, Shepard said that the city has been in discussions with OSU about possibly policing the campus.

“No decision has been made on the university side or the city side,” Shepard said. “Those discussions are ongoing.”

Although CPD’s involvement with OSU still has yet to be determined, Hurley said that he is very proud of the current status of the department and hopes to continue the relationships the department has made with the community when he takes the helm.

“I think we’re very well-supported in this community. I think the community respects us,” Hurley said. “They understand our challenges. The partnerships we have with our neighborhood associations and the university and our religious communities right now is very strong.”

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