Bainbridge Island has spent nearly a year without an official chief of police. It has resulted in an extensive search for the right person.
Now, after months of searching, the name of Bainbridge Island’s next police chief will be revealed, possibly as soon as Friday evening.
Strategic Government Resources, the Texas-based company handling the chief’s search, has whittled the field of candidates down to five law enforcement professionals.
Assistant Bureau Commander Bryce Johnson hails from the Salt Lake City Police Department. He graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor of science degree in political science, and also holds a master of public administration degree from Brigham Young University.
Johnson has 20 years experience on the job; a career he said was started by accident.
“My wife and I both worked at the same company and it went out of business, laying us off,” Johnson said.
“I then had a six-month pregnant wife and child on the way with no job or insurance.”
“In those days, people still used the help wanted section of the actual newspaper,” he added. “I went through the help wanted page and applied to every job that was posted.”
One of those jobs was for the Salt Lake City Police Department and Johnson eventually found himself with a badge.
“Once I was into the profession, I was hooked for life,” he said.
Now Johnson aims to take that passion to Bainbridge Island.
“Bainbridge Island appealed to me as a place to work for two reasons,” Johnson said.
“First, what a great place to live. The lifestyle, climate and area appeal to me and my family. Second, I see it as a great professional opportunity and challenge to help make Bainbridge Island police a high functioning professional police department and a great place to work.”
Lieutenant Richard Goerling is familiar with the dynamics of small-town departments. He currently works at the Hillsboro Police Department in Oregon.
His bachelor of science in economics was earned at Portland State University. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Goerling is also a commander in the Coast Guard. He has 17 years of experience in law enforcement.
“He’s extremely progressive and imaginative,” said Lieutenant Michael Rouches with the Hillsboro Police Department. “He’s a police futurist.”
“He’s really grabbed onto what is really important in police work today, and that is the issue of mental health,” Rouches added.
“If you look at what happens with police calls today and what goes wrong, a lot of that has to do with mental health. Rich has been at the forefront of that for years. He was banging that drum years ago,” Rouches said.
Rouches noted that Goerling created a crisis intervention team in Hillsboro that’s designed to train officers how to properly handle situations involving the mentally ill. He also implemented a police “mindfulness” program at his department, teaching officers how to be aware of who they are and how they interact with the community. It is ultimately a way for officers to deal with the stresses of policing.
All the candidates gained their law enforcement experience out of state, though, the final applicant is no stranger to Bainbridge Island.
Lieutenant Richard Daniels spent the majority of his 35 years in law enforcement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
His Alaskan roots drew him back north for retirement, however. He purchased a West Port Blakely home in 2009.
The island’s need for police leadership has drawn him back to the job, he said.
“I hadn’t planned on it,” Daniels said. “I originally bought a fixer-upper house and a fixer-upper boat, and intended to spend retirement on those two projects.”
Daniels got involved with Islanders for Collaborative Policing and learned about local policing issues.
“I figured the issues they are dealing with are what I have a background in,” Daniels said. “I decided the right thing to do was to throw my hat in the ring and give the department the leadership and the stability that it needs.”
Daniels is also a retired Coast Guard commander.
Harry Glidden is an executive officer with the Aurora Police Department in Colorado. He has 31 years of experience built off of a bachelor of science degree in applied management from the National American University as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Glidden could not be reached for comment earlier this week.
Major Matthew Hamner is the chief’s executive officer for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Hamner comes with 23 years of experience. He earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice and public safety from Indiana University.
Hamner graduated from the FBI National Academy as well.
Hamner was also the top pick for a police chief position in Flagstaff, Ariz. in 2012.
Hamner was also unavailable for comment early this week.
The five finalists have already gone through a substantial vetting process, city officials said.
“Up to this point, these candidates have already gone through pretty rigorous process that has involved providing written responses to 20 questions, online interviews background checks,” said City Manager Doug Schulze.
The screening process had led up to this week when all five candidates traveled to the island.
A public meet-and-greet was Thursday. Before the public met the candidates, the finalists had an opportunity to meet the employees of the police station.
The five men were also treated to a tour of the island on Friday morning, conducted by Kitsap Tours.
But the visit culminates as candidates run a gauntlet of interviews from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
“The candidates will rotate through four interview panels and with me,” Schulze said.
As city manager, Schulze will ultimately decide the person who gets the job.
The first panel consists of local law enforcement officials including Bainbridge’s Interim Public Safety Director Larry Dickerson, Poulsbo’s Acting Chief Bob Wright, Suquamish Police Chief Mike Lasiner, Normandy Park Police Chief Chris Gaddis, and Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.
The second panel will have department heads from the city including Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith, Finance Director Ellen Schroer, Planning Director Kathy Cook, and a representative from the public works department.
An intergovernmental panel includes representatives from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge Island School District, Kitsap Mental Health Services, and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District.
The fourth and final group is a citizen panel that includes Linda McMaken from the Civil Service Commission, Michael Yesley from the Ethics Board, Joanne Tews from Helpline House, and Rev. Dennis Tierny with Islanders for Collaborative Policing.
Once all five candidates have cycled through the panels, and have met in person with Schulze, the city manager is expected to make his decision.
The new chief will come to an island that has been without a police chief for nearly a year.
Former chief Jon Fehlman took ill in May 2012. Fehlman was then placed on administrative leave over the summer after the island’s police guild took a vote of no confidence in him. The guild’s allegations — ranging from malfeasance to being incapable of leading the department — were investigated but fell apart due to lack of evidence.
Fehlman officially resigned in September. Interim Public Safety Director Larry Dickerson has stepped in to keep the department running in the absence of an active chief.
Photos from top to bottom: Bryce Johnson, Richard Daniels and Harry Glidden.