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Hello, goodbye to members of police force

First published in the July 26 print edition

Police Chief Matt Workman leads introduces Gabe at his retirement ceremony July 13. He's shown here with his handler, Officer Robert Wirt. (Cindy Yingst)
Thursday, July 22, 2021

Warrenton Police Department welcomed a new recruit into the fold Tuesday night and said goodbye to its drug-sniffing dog, Gabe.

Christina Trujillo, hired May 24, has never worked as a police officer before.

She grew up in Clatsop County, graduated from Astoria High School in 2011 and graduated from Portland State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice.

She worked previously at Washington State Youth Authority’s Naselle Youth Camp, Ross Dress for Less and Hammond Kennels.

Trujillo was set to join the police department as a reserve officer when another member of the force resigned and she was given the full-time position, Chief Matt Workman said.

While there was plenty of applause and appreciation for Officer Trujillo, outgoing K-9 officer Gabe got a cake baked especially for him.

“Over his four-year career, Gabe and Officer (Robert) Wirt have been responsible for finding multiple amounts of narcotics, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl and other various controlled substances,” Workman said.

The city decided to retire Gabe because possession of small amounts of drugs is now a minor crime in Oregon. Measure 110, passed in November, changed how the state deals with personal drugs use, sending people to diversion programs instead of imposing penalties.

“Gabe was not only a WPD asset, but also a very important regional asset,” Workman said.

He’d assisted the sheriff’s office, Astoria and Seaside police Departments and other agencies with searches. Gabe regularly helped search local schools to keep them drug free, Workman said.

“Gabe’s gentle disposition and personality allowed him to be close to people and interact with them where other K-9s cannot,” he said. “As an unexpected benefit, Gabe was occasionally used to help calm people down who were in crisis as they felt very safe and comforted by Gabe’s presence.”

Gabe was sold to Officer Wirt through an agreement with the city and officially retired from active duty June 30.

Gabe enjoys a special cake made just for him while Officer Robert Wirt looks over memorabilia and plaques. (Cindy Yingst)

Officer Christina Trujillo smiles after her father, Luis, pins on her badge during the Oath of Office ceremony July 13. (Cindy Yingst)

Mayor Henry Balensifer shakes the hand of Officer Christina Trujillo after reading her the Oath of Office. (Cindy Yingst)