A full house is expected at the Elks Lodge this Saturday as the community, and the region, bids farewell to one of it’s favorite sons, former Newport Police Chief Jim Rivers. Chief Rivers had a reputation of being a tough cop with a soft heart. The stories of Chief River’s exceptional compassion and loyalty to his fellow officers, and especially toward their families, is legion around town.
Retired Newport Police Sergeant Dean Sawyer said Rivers always held high standards for his officers, and if he felt somebody had dropped the ball on anything, they’d find out – no question about it. But then, when done with his “instructive oratory,” he told his officer to get back out there and serve the people. Unless they made the same mistake again, Chief Rivers never brought it up again.
Sawyer said Chief Rivers wanted to make it clear he appreciated professional police work, even if it took all night to get to the bottom of a serious crime. Sawyer said he remembered one incident that took until about 3am to get to the bottom of it. Afterward Chief Rivers took money out of his own pocket and told his officers to meet him at the Pip Tide (now Apollo’s) for breakfast, on him.
Rivers was a family man with two boys and two girls. His second wife Joyce, a teacher, is retired from Sam Case School.
Sawyer says Rivers started out as an ambulance driver in Eugene, then became a medical corpman in the navy. After coming home he became a police officer with the Eugene Police Department, then eventually took the top spot at Newport PD, serving from 1982 to 1999. Chief Rivers passed away on January 8th, from a long bout with Alzheimers.
Memorial services for Chief Rivers is set for this Saturday, 1pm at the Elks Lodge. Not only will many of Chief River’s local admirers be on hand to say goodbye, but law enforcement from throughout the region are expected to pay their respects as well.