UPDATE | City hires former chief as interim fill-in for Fehlman

A former police chief from Lacey has been brought in to serve as acting police chief for the city of Bainbridge Island.

Larry Dickerson will take over next week as interim public safety director.

City council members said the move was a good choice.

“I know of Mr. Dickerson from some professional contacts and the guy has an absolutely excellent reputation,” said Councilman David Ward. “I think this will be a very positive move for our police department.”

Dickerson will take the helm of the police department, supervising its operations. He will not be an active officer, however.

“He is a retired chief; he’ll be managing the police department,” Ward said. “Since he’s retired he won’t be a commissioned officer, but we will be able to take advantage of his vast managerial experience.”

Earlier this year, Dickerson served as the interim chief in Tenino, and before that, the city of Mountlake Terrace.

Dickerson retired from his post as police chief in Lacey in March 2005.

After retiring, he served as an interim chief in roughly a half dozen cities before taking the interim job of police chief in Wasilla, Alaska.

For that job, he was hired through the Issaquah-based headhunting firm of the Prothman Company.

Prothman has assisted Bainbridge Island in the past on finding interim managers.

Interim City Manager Morgan Smith made the announcement in a memo to police department employees on July 6. She said she had made the appointment in light of Police Chief Jon Fehlman’s continued absence from the police department.

Fehlman has been away from his job as police chief since early June, when he was hospitalized for pancreatitis. He has also undergone two surgeries for a heart anomaly.

In her memo to employees in the police department, Smith said she was aware that the department had faced “some stressful events” in the past few months.

“In particular, I am aware that Chief Fehlman’s extended absence has placed extra demands on the department,” Smith wrote. “I am extremely grateful to Commander [Sue] Shultz for her management over the past few weeks, and her willingness to take on additional responsibilities is much appreciated. That appreciation extends to each of you, as I know there are ripple effects that require the entire department to step forward and respond.”

Smith said Dickerson has previously served as an interim chief in several cities.

“He brings extensive experience and a set of skills that I expect will be of value to us as we address our current issues,” Smith added.

She also said Dickerson would not be serving as a commissioned police officer but will have supervisory responsibilities and execute the duties of acting police chief.

Smith said Thursday that she sought help from several search firms to find an interim public safety director while Fehlman remains “unavailable for work.”

Dickerson’s compensation will be roughly comparable to Fehlman’s pay, Smith said.

Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley contributed to this report.

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