Jeff Horn said he was stepping down as Bainbridge police chief — and retiring from Washington state law enforcement — “with a heavy heart.”
Horn, the interim head of the city’s police force, submitted his resignation letter Friday, Nov. 15 and it was accepted by City Manager Morgan Smith on Monday, Nov. 25.
The timing was a surprise, coming just days before a planned community reception for the public to meet three finalists for the police chief position.
In his resignation letter, Horn, who joined the Bainbridge department as deputy chief in 2014 and became interim chief after the departure of former chief Matthew Hamner for Banning, California, set his last day of work at Dec. 5.
“It has been my honor to serve the residents of the city of Bainbridge Island for the past five years and be a member of the Bainbridge Island Police Department,” Horn said in his resignation letter.
“It is with a heavy heart that I move on to other opportunities,” he continued. “I will work with Interim Deputy Chief Weiss in the time before my last day to get him up to speed and ready for the transition to the new chief. While I have had many successes during my time here, I will say that serving as the Accreditation Manager and helping the department become state accredited for the first time in history was very rewarding.”
“I wish you and the department success as I transition out,” Horn wrote.
Horn was named interim chief after the departure of Hamner in January.
The city announced in late July it would conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief, and said at the time it planned to reinstate Horn as deputy chief after the new chief was hired.
The city’s consultant firm of Strategic Government Resources has narrowed a field of 35 applicants to three — Joseph “Joe” Clark, currently deputy police chief of the Norfolk Police Department in Norfolk, Virginia; Carl Nielsen, police chief for Centralia; and David “Dave” Westrick, the police chief of Hollister, California — and Bainbridge expects to hire a new chief by the end of the year.
Horn joined the Bainbridge Island Police Department in the second-in-command post in August 2014.
Previously, he had worked alongside Hamner for 20 years in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Horn completed his training at the Indianapolis Police Department’s Training Academy in February 1995, and has worked as a patrol officer, neighborhood resource officer, field training officer, accident investigator, sex crimes detective, sex crimes detective sergeant, field supervisor, training instructor and training supervisor.
Horn previously told the Review that he had interviewed for a police job in Banning, Calif., but has since not said publicly what his future plans may be. He did not respond to a request for comment earlier this week from the Review.
Smith, Bainbridge’s city manager, thanked Horn for his help during the changeover in the chief position at the Bainbridge Island Police Department.
“Chief Horn’s extra effort over the past year has helped to provide stability to the department and community during this period of leadership transition,” Smith said in Monday’s announcement that Horn was stepping down.
“Having worked together for five years, I have a high regard for his positive attitude and commitment, and I wish him success in his next position,” Smith added.
Smith immediately installed Deputy Chief Scott Weiss as acting police chief following Horn’s resignation.
City officials said Weiss will serve as interim chief until a replacement chief is hired.