Bainbridge police chief Matt Haney resigns | UPDATED

Police Chief Matt Haney with other members of the Bainbridge Police Department. Jan. 2009. - Sean Roach/Staff Photo
Police Chief Matt Haney with other members of the Bainbridge Police Department. Jan. 2009.
— image credit: Sean Roach/Staff Photo

Police Chief Matt Haney is stepping down from his post as head of the Bainbridge Island Police Department to take a position as police chief of the Colville Confederated Tribes Police Department.

Haney will serve with BIPD until Feb. 6. Deputy Police Chief Jon Fehlman, who joined the department in December, will serve as interim police chief until a new chief is hired.

Haney joined BIPD in 2003 when he was made interim police chief, and then police chief following the retirement of former chief Bill Cooper. He said he has been vacationing in the Colville area since 1980 and has close friends there.

Haney will be taking charge of a department of 30 officers policing a two million acre reservation.

He said it would be difficult to say goodbye to the Bainbridge community after six years.

"It's the people I will remember the most," Haney said. "You develop friendships within the department, and you become very close to the community members. The community came out in numbers when I was appointed as chief... that support never stopped."

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said Haney's retirement was a disappointment for the city.

"He's been a terrific chief," she said. "He really has developed a very strong department. They know what their job is and they really work together. There is always a little tension but we don't hear about it much because they are so focused on the community they serve."

City Council member Barry Peters, who has worked closely with Haney as a member of the Community Relations Committee, also expressed dismay at the departure, but said he admired Haney's work in the community.

"Matt is a person of great integrity and commitment to public service. He inspired great loyalty and respect in his public safety team," Peters said. "I always found him to be direct, honest and trustworthy. A caring family man, and an admirable role model for youngsters."

Haney's retirement marks the second high-ranking city resignation this month. Earlier it was announced that Randy Witt, the head of Public Works, was leaving for a post King County Metro Transit – today is his last day at the city.

Kordonowy acknowledged that Haney's retirement puts the city in the difficult position of hiring for two key posts while dealing with ongoing budget cuts.

"But we're going to continue to move forward and come out of this just fine," she said.

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