Lebanon Police veteran Patty Melson retiring after 30 years

In 1986 Patty Melson was promised two years of work in dispatch at the Lebanon Police Department.

Three decades later, she is looking forward to retirement.

“My father saw (the job listing) in the paper and told me about it,” Melson said. “I was a single mother with two kids looking for work.”

The shifts in those first years were difficult. Her work week consisted of a mix of graveyard, day and swing shifts.

“Between (family) and me and my kids telling me what day it was, we made it,” Melson said.

Community Policing Officer Dala Johnson worked with Melson in dispatch at that time and
remembers some of the challenges they faced together.

One year there was a flu going around and many people in the office were out sick, Johnson said. It was a grueling week that now draws a laugh from Johnson.

“(Melson and I) worked back-to-back 12-hour shifts in dispatch for a week,” Johnson said. “We were so burned out, but that’s just what we did.”

Johnson said she has shared many memorable moments with Melson.

“Whether it’s a smile or pat on my back, she’s there for me,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be
strange not having her here.”

Melson now works in the records department and is one of the first LPD staff members people see when they go to the Lebanon police department.

She left LPD for brief stint at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office but returned to LPD within a year, she said. LPD felt like family.

“People were so good to me,” Melson said.

Melson appreciates the people and the excitement of working in the police department.

“Every single day has something different,” Melson said.

She has seen a lot of changes over the years, from the responsibilities in dispatch to the way officers file their reports.

“I really liked dispatching fire and ambulance,” Melson said.

There was a “Charlie Button” that sent an alarm through the whole city.

“We hardly had computers back then,” she said.

The technological advances have been good and bad, she said.

While some tasks have become easier, others involve more work She and former police chief Mike Schulte worked together on a computer system upgrade.

Officers used to just hand write their reports and incident cards were manually timepunched.

Now officers can look up information and write reports from the field.

“Officers can do a lot from their cars,” Melson said.

Technology has made communicating with officers easier and more secure, when necessary.

“We can (instant message) officers quietly without going over radio,” she said.

It doesn’t disrupt their work in the same way a phone call would.

“When I think back all the changes they went through,” Melson said. “What will it be like in another 30 years?”

Melson doesn’t have any specific plans for herself in the near future, except for devoting more time to her home-based business selling essential oils.

The one thing on her list is taking time to breathe.

“I’m not going to put any stress (on myself) to do anything for a week or two,” Melson said.
“After that I still don’t have any plans. It just feels good to my mind.”