PORT ANGELES — Police Chief Terry Gallagher will retire with “my faith in people” intact when he leaves the job he’s held since 2008 and retires March 4.
He’ll also keep the trademark sense of humor that’s marked his 30 years in law enforcement.
“I was down in Oregon playing golf [with retired law enforcement officers], and it occurred to me I was the only one who had a job,” Gallagher said Friday after the city announced his retirement.
“I’m ready to do something else.”
The city will enlist the help of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, known as WASPC, in a search for Gallagher’s replacement, although Deputy Chief Brian Smith said Saturday he intends to apply for the job.
“Processes like those are very competitive, very vigorous,” Smith told the Peninsula Daily News.
“You’re very fortunate to make it through to the final group.”
As for his boss, Smith said, “Terry’s accomplished a lot. He’s leaving the department in good shape — things that we’ve accomplished with technology, things that we’ve collaborated with other agencies.”
The city chose WASPC for its expertise and its much lower cost — $3,000 vs. $25,000 for a “headhunter” consultant — to conduct the search, according to Abbigail Fountain, city human resources manager.
Fountain said a hire is expected in mid-May with an interim chief filling the job after Gallagher’s departure.
Gallagher, 62, entered law enforcement as a police reservist in the 1970s, then served as a military police officer.
Out of the Army, he said he sold boats for a few years, then rejoined the Port Angeles force in 1985.
According to a city announcement, Gallagher began as a full-time officer teaching the DARE program to elementary students.
In the course of his 30 years with the department, he also served as a patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, a member of the Clallam County Drug Task Force, and deputy chief before being chosen in a nationwide search to replace former Chief Tom Riepe in 2008.
Gallagher led the department through financial challenges, reducing overtime by more than $200,000, paring vehicle costs, and using student interns and volunteers to provide some services.
He also has worked toward merging separate county dispatch systems into a single 911 center, said Port Angeles City Manager Dan McKeen.
Gallagher said Friday he intended to take two months off to visit exchange students his family has hosted over the years before searching for a new job.
“People have always said to me I’d know when it was time to go. It didn’t mean anything then, but it does now.
“I’m ready to move on to wherever the end part of my life might go.”
Gallagher said he’d been happy in his law enforcement career despite the sadness and suffering he’d observed.
“You run into a lot of heartbreak,” he said. “You can’t avoid it.
“But I never lost my faith in people. Law enforcement is a job that can people to become pretty negative. But overall I think the world is filled with pretty good people.”
And he said he was happy he’d spent his service in Port Angeles.
“The police department has a wonderful, capable staff, and I believe it’s in good hands.
“This is a great place to be a cop.”
Reporter James Casey can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at [email protected]