BREA : James Oman Named Chief of Police

Capt. James E. Oman, who has been a member of the Brea Police Department since 1965, has been appointed chief of police.

He was named acting chief in May, after Chief Donald L. Forkus announced his retirement after a 28-year career.

In making the appointment, City Manager Frank Benest praised Oman’s leadership abilities and called him “the natural choice for the job.”

Oman, 51, joined the department as a police officer and was promoted to sergeant three years later. He became a lieutenant in 1970 and a captain in 1980. During his tenure, the department grew from 10 patrol officers to its current staffing of 84.


Oman contributed to an innovative contract, signed in 1971, that began Brea Police Department services in neighboring Yorba Linda.

“I think it was the first one of its kind,” he said of this type of arrangement between California cities. “It’s been a real satisfying thing for both cities.”

Oman also assisted with the Police Department’s move to the Brea Civic and Cultural Center in 1980.

“We’ve come a long way,” Oman said.


The toughest problem for the department now, he said, is providing a high level of service in the face of budget constraints. Brea is exploring ways to eliminate a $3-million general fund deficit for the 1994-95 fiscal year.

“I think just coping with the economic times right now is our biggest challenge,” Oman said. “Most of government is having to get by with less money. To get the job done, you have to be innovative.”

Oman, who has lived in Brea for 24 years, received a bachelor’s degree in police administration from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in public administration from Pepperdine University.