More than 20 years after Richard Ross ended his career as Kenai’s police chief, his son is following in his footsteps.
David Ross was sworn in as the city’s new police chief during a Tuesday ceremony at Kenai City Hall. He replaces former Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl, who announced his retirement from law enforcement earlier this month.
Before digging into a three-tier cake topped with David Ross’s likeness, the new chief spoke of his excitement to serve the Kenai Police Department in this new capacity.
“Recruitment and retention in law enforcement across the country and across the state’s not what it used to be, so there’s challenges to face,” he said.
David Ross began with the department in 2001 and worked his way up to the role of sergeant and then lieutenant, the position he held before the promotion. He also worked as a patrol officer and as an investigator, said Kenai Mayor Pat Porter.
“Dave is highly reliable on small or big projects,” Porter said during the ceremony. “During his time as lieutenant, he has taken on some very important assignments for the department. … He is very loyal to the city, and he’s going to make an excellent chief.”
Being sworn in by his father was a unique, special experience, David Ross said. Though he recalled being well known around town as the police chief’s son, he said entering law enforcement was not immediately his plan. He worked as a heavy equipment operator for about a decade before joining the Kenai Police Department.
Richard Ross said he didn’t immediately realize becoming a police officer was something his son wanted either. While the field has changed greatly since his time as chief, Richard Ross said he and his son are still able to exchange questions and thoughts about the job.
“I’m very proud of David,” he said. “I think he’ll do a good job, but that’s a dad talking.”
His son said he is eager to continue the level of service provided under Sandahl.
“I’ve known Gus, you know growing up in the same neighborhood, I’ve known him for 30 plus years. (We are) real good friends and he was a good boss,” David Ross said. “He was a guy that you always knew where he stood. … So you always came to work knowing exactly what to expect, and I appreciated that in a boss, and he was good to work for in that way, and I really just kind of hope to go on with the good succession.”
There are no monumental changes on the horizon for the city’s police department, he said, though the switch in leadership comes just as the department transitions into its busy summer season, which includes July’s personal-use dipnet season. In addition to the extra summer staff the department brings on to handle the dipnet fishery, David Ross said there are a number of other staff changes and training that will take place this season.
“You know, dipnet’s always interesting,” he said. “We’ve had some turnover this year, so we do have some new people that are going to be learning dipnet, and people in new positions and a new chief learning that role and doing a dipnet season.”
Sgt. Ben Langham will move up to the position of lieutenant, David Ross said.