Haney named interim police chief

Bainbridge Police Lt. Matt Haney will serve as interim chief of Bainbridge Police.

Haney, a relative newcomer to the department, was appointed Friday by Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

The appointment was made on the recommendation of Bainbridge Police Chief Bill Cooper, who retires from public service this week to take a job at Microsoft, and with the backing of the department’s uniformed officers.

Kordonowy said she spoke with more than a dozen Bainbridge officers, all of whom gave a strong endorsement of their colleague.

“I’m very pleased we have someone with his experience and support within the department,” Kordonowy said.

The move is “kind of a progression” for Haney, 49, who has spent his 25-year police career with both community and county departments, and has held supervisory ranks since 1989.

“There’s some huge positives to working here on the island,” Haney said. “The officers here are fantastic. It’s a rare collection of high-quality people.”

Born in South Korea, Haney grew up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley near the town of Lebanon.

He entered law enforcement as a reserve officer in Port Angeles, Wash., in 1977, and took a full-time position with the city of Kent’s department two years later.

He served with the King County Sheriff’s Office from 1983-96, where he earned the rank of sergeant and was an investigating officer on the Green River serial slayings.

After a stint with a department in the logging community of Homer, Alaska, Haney and his wife returned to Washington two years ago to be closer to their grown sons.

In fall 2001, two weeks after joining the Bainbridge force as a lieutenant, he was loaned out to King County to join detectives assembling new evidence against alleged Green River killer Gary Ridgway.

It was a professional homecoming of sorts, one that Haney welcomed.

“We made the arrest,” he said. I never thought I’d actually get to be in on it.”

He returned to the Bainbridge department last July, and since then has worked as shift lieutenant in charge of training and detectives.

Haney said he intends to apply for the chief post on a permanent basis once it is advertised. He expressed confidence in the department’s current direction – specifically, work with neighborhoods on crime prevention and community preparedness – and said he has yet to formulate his own goals or plans.

“It’s still very new, being an interim chief, and it would be presumptuous of me to start making five-year goals,” Haney said.

He and his wife, who will celebrate their 29th anniversary next month, live in Buckley in Pierce County. They are looking to move to Bainbridge or the North Kitsap area, which Kordonowy said counted in Haney’s favor.

“That kind of commitment says a lot to me,” the mayor said, “someone who’s willing to pull up and mover over here and learn the community.”

His interim term could last throughout this year; Kordonowy said the administration will not begin work on finding a permanent replacement for at least three months.

Cooper, whose last day with Bainbridge Police is Friday, gave Haney his endorsement over other, longer-tenured lieutenants in the department.

While Cooper said the move would best maintain the stability of department operations, he also lauded Haney’s qualifications in their own right.

Haney’s career experience includes work on a SWAT team; supervising K-9, air support units and King County Search and Rescue; and training supervisors.

“With all the success we’ve had, the system will unfairly judge him against me,” Cooper said. “He has his own ideas and his own style, and they should be left alone to flourish.”

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