BBR police officer set to retire
Last updated 8/3/2022 at Noon
Kelvin Lettenmaier is, in the estimation of Black Butte Ranch Police Chief Jason Van Meter, “the epitome of a community police officer.”
On August 3, Officer Lettenmaier, 57, was to work his final shift as a Black Butte Ranch Police Officer, after two decades of service that made him a beloved figure at the resort community eight miles west of Sisters.
Lettenmaier has had a long and varied connection to the Ranch. His family moved to Central Oregon in the 1970s, where his father had landed a job in real estate — at Black Butte Ranch. Lettenmaier became an avid golfer and a fixture on the Ranch’s nationally renowned courses.
“At one point (in the 1990s) I was the head golf pro at Glaze Meadow,” he recalled.
Feeling the need to develop a career, Lettenmaier turned to law enforcement, after becoming acquainted with some cops in Clackamas County where his wife then lived. He liked what he saw of the job, and went to the police academy, then hired on with Bend PD. Before long, he was looking for another position when one opened up at Black Butte Ranch, where the pace and style of work was more to his liking.
“I really like it,” he said. “The homeowners have been great over the years — very supportive and grateful that the police department has been here. It’s been a great place to work — a very, very supportive community.”
In addition to policing the Ranch, BBR Police act as back-up to other agencies in the western part of Deschutes County. They work accidents on the Santiam Pass and back up the Sisters deputies of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office on law enforcement calls in Sisters. They do a lot of the speed enforcement work on Highway 20 west of the Ranch, trying to curtail speeding past the resort’s entrance.
“I like the speed enforcement,” Lettenmaier said.
But Lettenmaier’s favorite aspect of the job is clear: working the bike patrol established on the Ranch several years ago. It’s work that puts him in close contact with residents and guests, the community policing part of the work that brings him the greatest satisfaction.
“If I had a favorite aspect of my job in the last seven or eight years, it would be the summertime doing the bike program, the bike patrol,” he said.
The job involves a lot of outreach and interactions with kids and families — interactions of the positive kind; handing out toy badges and showing equipment.
“Those are really special times,” Lettenmaier said.
The most dramatic turns in his tenure at BBR were the wildfire evacuations forced by the Cache Mountain Fire in 2002 and the Link Fire in 2003. Evacuating everyone from the Ranch in smoky conditions with fire looming on the outskirts was a complex and demanding task and Lettenmaier takes pride in the way the department handled the work.
One aspect of the job that he won’t miss is working nights. At 57, he’s tired of wearing all the heavy gear required of an officer, and he’s ready to have “just a regular job.”
He’s landed one, working for a friend with Eberhard’s Dairy in Redmond.
Lettenmaier also expects to get the golf clubs swinging, with more time available to hit the links.
“I’m sure gonna try,” he said.
He notes that, while the climate locally is still good for people in law enforcement, it’s not so good regionally and nationally, and the apparent turn against law enforcement in some sectors of society played into his decision to hang up the badge.
But he looks back with satisfaction over a long career working with good people. He says that the BBR Police Department has improved steadily in all aspects under each chief.
His current chief will miss him.
“He’s beloved on the Ranch,” Chief Van Meter told The Nugget, noting that Lettenmaier really “gets” the Ranch culture, which his background in golf helps. And he has that all-important element that Chief Van Meter prizes above all others: a servant’s heart.
“Community policing boils down to relationships, and Kelvin has all his relationships in place,” the Chief said. “It’ll take 20 years to replace what we have in Kelvin.”