Patrolling Philomath’s streets and responding to calls overnight on graveyard shifts, 23-year-old rookie police officer Lucas Sinclair has a high degree of familiarity with the lay of the land. A little more than five years earlier, Sinclair had received his Philomath High School diploma to embark on new adventures.

The path led him right back to Philomath. And that’s not a bad thing.

“It’s awesome; I feel super fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to give back to a community that basically raised me,” said Sinclair, who graduated from the state’s police academy this past summer and is now a couple of months into the job. “I started out in Blodgett but from the fifth grade on, I was in Philomath so I feel fortunate to give back in a professional capacity and serve my community.”

For a fresh-out-of-the-academy officer like Sinclair, he’s eager to soak up the experience and knowledge that he has around him with the Philomath Police Department.

“Just working under a guy like Chief (Ken) Rueben with that much experience is great and with Sgt. (Dave) Gurski, I’m just working with a stellar team that they have here,” he said.

Sinclair grew up in Summit — although he usually tells people Blodgett because that’s more familiar to others — with his parents and a twin brother, older brother and older sister. Nobody in the family has a background in law enforcement, so what sparked his interest? It came down to his senior year at Philomath High School.

“We had to do a senior project and I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school,” Sinclair said. “Mr. (Scott) Ballard, who was the shop teacher at the time in Philomath, had the idea of doing a career exploration kind of thing for my project.”

The exploration involved shadowing in three different career areas.

“I shadowed a machinist, I shadowed someone at a mill and then I went on ride-alongs with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and the Corvallis Police Department,” Sinclair said. “Ever since I did ride-alongs with them, I just sort of fell in love with it and I could picture myself doing something like that in the future. That’s where it all started.”

Sinclair attended Blodgett Elementary through the fourth grade and then finished up in Philomath, graduating with the class of 2014. With the ride-along experiences, he began looking for a college to continue his education in the direction of law enforcement.

“I decided to pursue a degree at Western Oregon because they were the closest school that had criminal justice,” said Sinclair, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2018.

Sinclair entered the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training basic police class in Salem back on April 15 and graduated with his class on Aug. 9.

“Most of it was fun — the driving, the shooting, even just the classroom bonding with everybody,” he said. “The academics weren’t too tricky.”