A little over a month ago, Rodney Nawn, his wife Natalie and their 2-year-old son Theo first stepped onto Orcas Island.
Nawn, 33, is the newest San Juan County deputy to roam the streets of the island. He and his family arrived on Sept. 23 from Long Beach, Washington.
“The first thing my wife said when we got here was, ‘Everyone seems really nice here,’” said Nawn. “There’s a lot of similarities [between Orcas and Long Beach]. We lived on a peninsula so it was similar. There wasn’t a whole lot down there.”
Nawn has been in law enforcement since graduating from the police academy in April 2013. Prior to joining the department in Long Beach, Nawn worked for Dick Hannah Dealerships in Vancouver, Washington, detailing cars. He then left that job to start working in the private security industry.
“I went on a couple ride-alongs and it was fun. I decided I’d try it out as a reserve [officer],” said Nawn. “I really liked it and I think I’m pretty good at it, so I stuck with it.”
Getting to know people in the community and their stories is his favorite part of being in law enforcement, he said.
“I can talk to people very well. I’m not somebody that goes out and hammers people,” said Nawn. “I like to see what’s going on. I like people to tell me their story.”
San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs agreed. He said that Nawn’s friendly personality was one of the reasons he was hired.
“He’s a pretty soft-spoken, low-key individual who I think will fit in our community here,” said Krebs. “His small-town personality and his community policing beliefs fit right in line with mine.”
Krebs said he feels “very comfortable” with his decision to hire Nawn to fill the vacancy Nawn was one of three candidates for the position, he added. To be a successful deputy in the San Juan Islands, Krebs explained, a person has to be comfortable working alone.
“You have to be able to be confident in your job and basically take care of yourself,” said Krebs. “There are a lot of times when you’re on all by yourself.”
Though having never stepped foot on Orcas prior to moving here, Nawn visited San Juan Island with his wife during vacations for the past 15 years. Natalie’s parents live on San Juan.
“We’ve been trying to get up here for years,” said Nawn. “This is where we want to be. We’re happy here.”
When not on patrol, Nawn said he enjoys exploring his new island home with his wife and son, as well as hiking and just spending time outdoors. They will soon be adopting a 6-month-old French bulldog to add to their small family. He said he is content with where he ended up and has no plans to ever leave the San Juan Islands.
“We like the small town feel and sense of community,” said Nawn. “It’s just where we wanted to be. This is it for me.”