Lieutenant Hawkins steps in as acting chief of Bainbridge police

Bainbridge Island Police Lieutenant Phil Hawkins has been filling in as acting chief of the department while Police Chief Jon Fehlman remains in the hospital for treatment of pancreatitis.

"We don't expect it to be long term," Hawkins said. "Everyone has stepped up to help out, so it's been a team effort."

Commander Sue Shultz is also currently out of the office until May 30.

Hawkins said that the department is "running smoothly," and his time at the helm should not go beyond the end of the month when Shultz returns.

Chief Fehlman's absence comes during the Ostling trial that is currently playing out in a federal courtroom in Tacoma. The Ostling family is suing the city, Officer Jeff Benkert and Fehlman for the shooting of their mentally ill son.

Late last week, Steward Estes, an attorney for the city, said Fehlman's condition had worsened.

Estes said attempts to feed him through a feeding tube had been unsuccessful, and noted that the chief had not eaten since the Mother's Day brunch where he fell ill.

Friday, Estes asked the court if it would be possible if Fehlman could attend the trial in a wheelchair if his condition improved. The judge agreed.

On Monday, however, Estes said Fehlman had not improved to the point where he could attend the trial.

The chief is not now expected in court this week. Both sides expect to use portions of his earlier deposition now, instead of direct testimony.


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