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McAlpine named as new police chief in Tigard

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The assistant chief in Tacoma, Wash., she will become the second active female police chief in Washington County.

FILE - Kathy McAlpine, center, talks to an attendee at an open house for Tigard police chief candidates in late January. McAlpine was selected from among the six finalists at that event to lead the Tigard Police Department, the city announced Monday.Tigard's new police chief finally has a name.

Kathy McAlpine, assistant police chief in Tacoma, Wash., has been hired to take the reins at the Tigard Police Department, the city announced Monday.

McAlpine has spent more than three decades in local law enforcement. Once she officially takes over in Tigard, she will be one of two women leading a police department in Washington County, along with Forest Grove Chief Janie Schultz, who was hired in 2012.

Tigard has been without a permanent police chief since Alan Orr retired at the end of September. The city did not have a successor in place at the time of Orr's departure — Jim de Sully had retired just months earlier as Tigard's assistant police chief — and City Manager Marty Wine tapped Cmdr. Robert L. Rogers II, a longtime department veteran, to take over as interim chief.

McAlpine was selected after a "nationwide search," Tigard officials said, which ultimately narrowed down the candidates to six: four from Washington and two from Oregon. Three of those candidates, including Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth, later told The Times they had been dropped from consideration as Wine further narrowed down her choices.

"Out of the six candidates, we were looking for somebody who's an excellent communicator, who had great experience, somebody who uses data to help with managing and decision-making," Wine said Monday.

Of McAlpine, she added, "She's the candidate who showed a great understanding of our strategic plan. … She brings great ideas to lead the department."

McAlpine is expected to start work in Tigard on April 3, Wine said.

Kathy McAlpine.The incoming chief spoke with The Times while visiting Tigard as a candidate in January. She said she feels her experience in a larger city like Tacoma has prepared her for any situation she is likely to face as Tigard's police chief.

"For me, it gives me that confidence that with Tacoma, I have seen and done just about anything that you can ever imagine," McAlpine said. "We've had the mall shooting. We've had the high school shooting. We are talking about race and equity. We are dealing with gang problems to homelessness issues. … Even if we don't ever see some things, you have (that experience) in your toolbox, or you can see it coming."

In the city's announcement of the hiring, Wine touted McAlpine as "a proven law enforcement leader."

"I'm confident her innovation and creativity will serve Tigard well for the future of our city that's growing and changing," Wine added.

McAlpine has served with the Tacoma Police Department since 1986 and has been its assistant chief for the past five years. She said in a statement provided by the City of Tigard that she is "thankful" for her time in Tacoma and is looking forward to "developing a shared vision for the police department that's aligned with the city's strategic plan."

Wine said McAlpine's understanding of the city's strategic plan and goals, such as improving walkability and promoting healthy living, along with feedback she received from members of the police department and the community, made her the top choice for the job.

"I know that the department is very excited about having a new leader come on board and to work with Kathy," Wine said.

Bill Steele, who became police chief in neighboring Tualatin last year, participated on the interview committee for the candidates. He said he wishes McAlpine well and is "excited" for Tigard to have a permanent chief named.

"I'm sure we'll be working with her before too long," Steele said.

McAlpine is a co-founder of the Northwest Women's Law Enforcement Network. She has a master's degree in criminal justice from Columbia College.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information on the incoming Tigard police chief's background, as well as quotes from Tigard's city manager and Tualatin's police chief.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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