Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Ray Duman believes half the battle of building continuity in a police department is finding people who want to live in the community in which they are working.

And with most of the current staff of the Baker City Police Department fitting that bill, he expects his year as Baker City’s interim police chief to be an easy assignment.

And along the way, he hopes his service will allow City Manager Fred Warner Jr. ample time to find the right leader to successfully guide the police force.

Duman, 60, will end the job he’s held for the past 4 years as an adult abuse investigator for the Center for Human Development in La Grande at the end of the month.

On July 1 he’ll begin his new job as Baker City police chief. He’s signed a one-year contract and will be paid $6,723 per month in the interim role.

Duman said he had planned to retire from his three-quarter-time investigator job after another year, but instead he will spend that year working for the City of Baker City.

It’s the town he calls home and the town where he says he will retire for good after finishing this one last assignment.

“We’re planning on staying in Baker,” he says.

Duman and his wife, Gail, a former Baker City Council member, have three grown children and one grandchild.

Duman first retired in 2011 after a 27 -year career with the Oregon State Police, including the last 13 in Baker City where he served as lieutenant of the OSP’s Eastern Region Criminal Division.

Duman said he believes his experience and the relationships he’s built with other law enforcement agencies over the years will be a plus as he leads the Baker City Police Department.

“I live in this community and I believe I can give something back to this community,” Duman said.

He praised the job Chief Dustin Newman has done in the past year. Newman is leaving the department to take a job with the Polk Count Sheriff’s Department, his former employer for 14 years before he moved to Baker City in 2014.

Newman was named chief in 2018 after former police chief Wyn Lohner retired.

“Chief Newman has done a great job, and he’s well-respected,” Duman said.

He also pointed to the commitment the department’s staff has to the community.

“They’ve got some great people,” he said. “My job is going to be pretty easy, I believe.”

Duman doesn’t discount, however, that he’s taking over during the busiest time of year in the city and before a new lieutenant joins the staff.

Ty Duby, a longtime Baker City OSP officer, will fill that position, which has been open since Newman moved into the job of chief. Duby will move into his new role on Oct. 1.

Duman says he won’t hesitate to ask for help if the Baker City Police need assistance at any time during his tenure. And he’s confident that he’ll get a good response based on the relationships he’s built with people at other agencies throughout the years.

“I’ve got the experience and I think I can help the police department to maintain the status quo,” he said. “And it gives Fred the time to find the right person.

“One of the big things, we’re going to hopefully keep the turnover rate down,” Duman said. “Hopefully, getting the right person in in leadership will build confidence and people will stay.”

And in the meantime, Duman is looking toward the coming weeks and the approach of annual events such as the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, the Miners Jubilee and the Eastern Oregon Tribute Fest.

He has this hope for his first few months in the new position: “Let’s make it a successful and safe summer.”