New deputy chief ready for duty
December 5, 2008 · Updated 5:24 PM
New Bainbridge Police Deputy Chief Jon Fehlman has brought his own squad to the island. With a wife, Denise, and five sons, Fehlman said family guides just about everything he does.
“When I talk about my job, I never say ‘I,’ it’s always ‘we.’ I say that because I include my family in all the decisions,” Fehlman said.
Fehlman began his new job Monday, filling the role of Mark Duncan, who retired as deputy chief in October. Fehlman will manage day-to-day operations at the department, allowing Chief Matt Haney to focus on administration and long-term planning.
Fehlman, who has 24 years of experience in law enforcement, came to Bainbridge from the Santa Rosa Police Department in California, where he served as lieutenant of the Special Services Division, Investigations Bureau. In Santa Rosa, Fehlman managed more than 40 sworn officers, in a department of 189.
He said the job opening on Bainbridge was appealing because it afforded his family the opportunity to live in a place with access to the outdoors and good schools.
Fehlman said he also saw the deputy chief position as an opportunity to be connected to the community.
“I’m big on walking around town, getting out of my patrol car and getting to know people,” Fehlman said.
A portion of Fehlman’s duties will be dedicated to emergency preparedness. Fehlman said he was involved with flood and earthquake preparedness in California, and he is familiarizing himself with the challenges presented by the geography of the island. He complimented the groundwork already laid by City Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Ed Call, whose consultant position will likely not be renewed in 2009.
Community outreach is another major element of the deputy chief position. Fehlman said he was eager to continue the department’s community policing program. He said he would also like to better utilize the department’s Web-site as a communication tool.
Fehlman said the biggest challenge facing the police department is its tightening budget. The department has so far had to freeze one position as a cost saving measure.
While never easy, Fehlman said budget squeezes can have positive results.
“I’m an optimist,” Fehlman said. “Such an optimist that I think when things are the toughest, that’s when we do our best work.”