Camas police chief search narrows

City leaders meet with top 5 finalists; Chief Lackey set to retire in early 2023

The search for Camas’ next police chief has narrowed to five finalists.

City officials announced the top five candidates on Monday, Dec. 5, and held a meet-and-greet event Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Camas Public Library to introduce the police chief finalists to the community.

Camas Mayor Steve Hogan will make the final decision on which of the five candidates might replace longtime Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey, who is set to retire in early 2023.

Lackey announced his retirement in April 2022, after serving the police department for 32 years, including 14 years as the department’s chief.

“It has been an honor to serve the city in this capacity all these years,” Lackey told the mayor and Camas City Council in April. “I think the timing is right for a switch in the (police) department, and I will work with the mayor and the city administrator so that we have a real smooth transition.”

The chief later told The Post-Record that it is a good time for him to transition into retirement.

“We’ve just wrapped up some big projects – re-accreditation, a new labor contract, body cameras – (and) I’ve still got a couple more projects that I will be working on to help facilitate the transition for the next chief,” Lackey said.

The five finalists to replace Lackey are:

o John Bruce, a law enforcement professional with more than three decades’ worth of experience. Bruce left his police chief job in Frisco, Texas, in June 2019, to lead a police department in Richland, Washington, but quit unexpectedly in January 2022. Public documents obtained by The Tri-City Herald newspaper showed the city of Richland agreed to pay Bruce five months’ salary, provide five months’ worth of health benefits and let future employers know Bruce had voluntarily resigned, in exchange for the police chief’s agreement that he would not file an insurance claim against Richland or sue the city. Bruce – who reportedly focused on increasing the Richland Police Department’s communications and engagement with the public during his brief tenure — led the Richland department through public questioning of a police-involved shooting that injured an unarmed man in February 2021. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys reviewed the shooting and ruled “the use of force … was done in good faith.”

o Dennis Flynn, a police commander for Commerce City, Colorado. Flynn retired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after 30 years’ service, and wrote a book, “Held Hostage: Negotiating Life and Death for the Las Vegas Police Department” detailing his experiences as a police crisis negotiator. Flynn was one of three police chief candidates Bellingham, Washington officials considered hiring in early 2022. At a March 2022 police chief candidate meet-and-greet event for the Bellingham police chief job, Flynn said he believed in a community policing strategy and in “getting cops back into the neighborhoods” to help reduce crime rates.

James Quakenbush, a police captain for the Boise Police Department in Idaho, and former Portland police lieutenant. According to the city of Boise, Quackenbush “joined the Portland Police Bureau in 1999, where he served for over 22 years before retiring as a lieutenant and joining the Boise Police Department in 2021.” The city said Quackenbush, the captain of Boise Police Department’s patrol division, “is passionately committed to keeping … officers safe while protecting our most vulnerable community members.” A classically trained pianist, Quackenbush told Bravo Youth Orchestras in 2016, he gained his passion for law enforcement and music from his father, a retired Kent (Washington) Police Department sergeant and his mother, who came from a family “full of talented musicians.”

Matthew Siekmann, a commander in the Phoenix Police Department in Arizona. Siekmann has 25 years experience with the Phoenix Police Department, where he has served on the Special Investigations Unit and supervised criminal felony investigations involving city employees; on the Violent Crimes Bureau, the Crimes Against Children Unit, and the Domestic Violence and Missing Persons Unit.

Bill Steele, the former police chief in Tualatin, Oregon, and an instructor for the Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training. Steele, who also served with the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, told The Sherwood Gazette in May 2022, after announcing his resignation as Tualatin’s police chief, that he was an advocate of community policing. “”It has to be a partnership,” Steele said of community policing, which advocates for more trust-building and relationships between law enforcement officers and the public they’re tasked with policing and protecting. “You know, we need the support of the community.”

law enforcement veteran said he gained his talents naturally having grown up with a father who retired as a Kent (Washington) Police Department sergeant and a mother who came from a family “full of talented musicians.”

Matthew Siekmann, a commander in the Phoenix Police Department in Arizona. Siekmann has 25 years experience with the Phoenix Police Department, where he has served on the Special Investigations Unit and supervised criminal felony investigations involving city employees; on the Violent Crimes Bureau, the Crimes Against Children Unit, and the Domestic Violence and Missing Persons Unit.

Bill Steele, the former police chief in Tualatin, Oregon, and an instructor for the Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training. Steele, who also served with the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, told the Sherwood Gazette in May 2022, after announcing his resignation as Tualatin’s police chief, that he was an advocate of community policing. “”It has to be a partnership,” Steele said of community policing, which advocates for more trust-building and relationships between law enforcement officers and the public they’re tasked with policing and protecting. “You know, we need the support of the community.”