Glerup elected for first time in 1984
by Samantha White
“It’s just time,” Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup said regarding his upcoming retirement.
After 26 years of service, Glerup announced that he plans to retire from his position as sheriff Jan. 1, 2015.
Glerup was elected sheriff for the first time in 1984, and he took office in 1985. After serving three consecutive four-year terms, he lost the 1996 election.
Thus, he took a four-year hiatus from law enforcement, during which he owned and operated a private business.
But Glerup said he resumed his post after he was “accosted” by the district attorney and juvenile director and persuaded to run for sheriff again.
He was re-elected in the following election and has served three-and-a-half consecutive terms since then.
Background in law enforcement
Glerup said he’s wanted to work in law enforcement since he was 18 years old.
After graduating from Burns Union High School in 1969, Glerup went to Southern Oregon College (now Southern Oregon University) on a wrestling scholarship. While in college, Glerup took law enforcement classes and became familiar with the area.
He joined the Oregon State Police (OSP) force Oct. 1, 1972 and chose to work in Medford.
“At the time, you couldn’t work in your home town unless you lived in Portland because they figured you might not know everyone in Portland,” Glerup explained.
Hired at the age of 21, Glerup was the youngest trooper on the force at the time. He was also one of the first people in his recruit class to be interviewed for the position.
However, after learning that both his father and youngest daughter contracted cancer, Glerup decided to leave his job with OSP and move back to Harney County. He purchased a business from a family friend and operated it for six years, before deciding to sell it and run for Harney County sheriff.
After only about five months on the job, Glerup received a report of two individuals shooting at a house in Lake County.
Responding to the call, Glerup drove down Highway 395 toward Lakeview, as the shooting took place in Valley Falls.
Glerup said he was about 16 miles south of Riley when he passed the suspects’ vehicle, which was headed in the opposite direction. Glerup turned around, and an 80 to 85 mph chase ensued.
Glerup said it wasn’t “a real high-speed pursuit” because he and the suspects were both driving Ford pickups.
However, about two miles east of Riley, the passenger of the suspects’ pickup leaned out the window and fired a number of rounds at Glerup’s sheriff’s department pickup with an AR-15 automatic rifle.
According to an article published in the Burns Times-Herald March 20, 1985, “Glerup said five to seven rounds struck the front of his truck. A bullet fragment also struck his leg, leaving only a welt.”
Glerup radioed for backup, and officers from OSP, Burns Police, Hines Police and Tribal Police set up a roadblock near the Bureau of Land Management horse corrals, which is where the pair was arrested for alleged attempted murder, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and robbery in the first degree.
During the course of his career, Glerup also participated in a double homicide investigation in which both of the victims had been married to the same man. After about a five-year investigation and three-month trial, that man is serving two life sentences in Oregon penitentiaries.
One year, Glerup participated in three homicide investigations within a five-month time frame. All three of the incidents occurred within a quarter mile of the sheriff’s office. In fact, one of them took place across the street.
But despite the obvious dangers of dealing with suspects, Glerup said the most challenging aspect of his job has been managing the county’s 23-bed jail.
“We have to care and provide for all the people in the jail, and there are a lot of demands put forth by state and federal government on operation of the jail,” he explained.
In addition to managing the jail and sheriff’s department, Glerup oversees 9-1-1 dispatch and community corrections.
He now supervises 23 employees, which is a dramatic increase from the five employees who were on his staff the first time he was elected.
“When I first got elected, I did not have any certified deputies to work with me,” Glerup said, explaining that there were only four corrections officers and a civil deputy.
Serving the people
When asked about the most rewarding aspect of his position, Glerup said it varies daily. However, he said he’s enjoyed getting to know the people who he represents and being able to pay them back for all the support they’ve given him over the years.
His advice for the next Harney County sheriff is to be very open with the public and remain available.
“I get probably as many phone calls at home as I get at the office,” Glerup said, adding that he’s always listed his cellphone number.
Plans for retirement
When asked what he plans to do when he retires, Glerup beamed with pride and said, “Boy, I’ve got eight grandkids, so that’s pretty exciting.”
Due to the demands of his job, Glerup said he’s missed out on some important family events with his daughters and grandchildren.
“I missed out on a lot of my kids’ ball games and things like that because of work,” Glerup said. “I had to work many a Christmas Day and holiday because that’s when things happen, unfortunately.”
In addition to spending time with family, Glerup plans to travel with his wife, Becky, who will retire from her position at Harney Electric Cooperative Inc. in a few months.
“Becky is Basque, so she wants to go to Spain,” Glerup said. “We might wander that way.”
He added that he’d also like to see the rest of the contiguous United States.
Glerup said he has a “pretty nice” fishing boat that he’d like to take out on the ocean or larger lakes, so fishing is also in his future.
Glerup said he doesn’t know who the next sheriff will be, but he thinks it’s important that the citizens of Harney County hold whoever he/she is to “do the office right.”
He added, “I’ve tried to do that for 26 years. You can’t make everybody happy, but you have to do the right thing for the right reasons.”