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Police chief duties shuffled as Russell takes medical leave

Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell is on medical leave for an indefinite amount of time, leaving his duties as chief to Capt. Doug Garrett.

“Unfortunately, the chief has not been able to establish his return to work date as of yet,” said City Administrator Scott Derickson. “He has by: JEFF MCDONALD - Police Chief Scott Russell, pictured earlier this year, is battling infection in his one good leg, placing him on medical leave for an indefinite amount of time.suggested that an acting chief of police be appointed during this period. This will help ensure chain-of-command in his absence and that the duties of chief are appropriately covered.”

The decision was made Friday, the day after the chief went in for a nine-hour surgery on his leg. Russell has had numerous procedures performed since the West Coast Bank bombing that was five years ago this week. Russell lost a leg in the blast that killed Woodburn Police Capt. Tom Tennant and Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim. Now, his existent leg has been battling infections, resulting in dozens of hospital visits and procedures.

In the midst of his hospital visits, Russell and his family have been supported by dozens of friends in the community, from people dropping off meals to elves bringing a tree and Christmas decorations to their home.

“We’ve offered a helping hand to his family with anything they need, and we’re keeping him in our thoughts — his family as well,” said WPD Capt. Jason Alexander. “We’ll do anything for him. He’s a strong guy who puts us all to shame with his dedication and internal strength. I have no doubt he’ll be back in no time.”

Russell has been active in his church, North Marion Fellowship, and Pastor Jim Terwilliger said he’s an easy person to support.

“We certainly are praying for him,” he said. “He’s an important part of our church and one of my best friends.”

Terwilliger also noted Russell’s strength in the midst of trials.

“I think he’s encouraged,” he said. “He’s putting his faith in the Lord and just dealing with life. Only the Lord knows the future, but he’s still got a lot of support.”

Friend Kelly Long has fielded calls about what people can do to help. Perhaps the most helpful need has been taking care of Russell’s teenage daughter, Mary, by providing rides for her and making sure she gets a square meal. Daughter Kathryn is coming home for the holidays from college, and a group is hoping to make their Christmas special.

“They’re going to take the girls and four of their friends bowling and to Red Robin,” Long said.

It is unclear the time frame of Russell’s recovery or the severity of his condition.

“It is my hope that Chief Russell’s recovery will be speedy and that he will return as chief as soon as possible,” Derickson said in a statement. “The chief and his family remain foremost in my thoughts and prayers, as I know he is with many of you.”




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