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Coupeville hires new town marshal as Penrod leaves

Beginning next year, there will be a new marshal in town and his name is Lance Davenport.

Coupeville has been on the hunt for a new top cop since Marshal David Penrod announced his intent to retire at the end of the year. Town officials announced Davenport's hiring Tuesday morning.

The 44-year-old Duvall resident said he's excited about the job because this will be his first turn at the helm of a department. He's also looking forward to working in a small community because it allows officers to have a direct and positive influence on the people they serve.

"It's just a different type of policing," he said, adding that it's the kind he likes the most.

Davenport is a veteran officer with nearly 20 years of police experience. Most recently, he spent three years as the police commander – assistant chief – of the Mill Creek Police Department. Before that, he spent 16 years with the Mercer Island police.

He has experience as a public information officer, an emergency vehicle operations instructor and has been an active member of the Washington Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs. He also has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

Davenport takes over for Penrod, who first joined the department in 1993 but has led the five-officer department as chief for the past four years. After a nearly 20-year sentry over Coupeville, he said he's ready to hang up his badge.

"It's time for me to go on to do something else," Penrod said, adding that he wants to spend time with his wife, Josefine, children and grandchildren.

He spent his entire civilian law enforcement career in Coupeville. Penrod said he enjoyed policing in a small town. It allowed him to follow up with people, even if it meant arresting them so they could get the help they need.

Prior to joining the Coupeville Marshal's Office, he enjoyed a lengthy career in the Navy, where he had a variety of jobs. He served two-and-a-half tours in Vietnam as a door gunner in a helicopter and then spent 16 years as an aviation technician before finishing up his last five years in the military police.

"I really liked security and that is what really sparked my interest in police when I got out of the Navy," Penrod said, adding he chose to stay on Whidbey Island because he likes the quality of life while still remaining close to military facilities.

"I've grown to like the island and I've grown to like the people here," the North Carolina native said.

The first several years as a deputy marshal for the Coupeville Marshal's Office were highlighted by numerous changes. Five different people served as town marshal before Marlborough provided some stability in the office. Penrod took over for Marlborough in 2007 after he left Coupeville for his home town of New Orleans.

"He has just done a great job for the community," Mayor Nancy Conard said of Penrod's tenure in the marshal's office.

To find his replacement, the town contracted with Public Safety Testing. After an initial screening, five candidates were evaluated by a panel made up of police chiefs and law enforcement supervisory personnel.

The applicants included current deputy marshal's Chris Peabody and Hodges Gowdey, Coupeville resident Robert Davenport, Dayton resident Bill Peters and Davenport.

Finalists were then interviewed by a team of five, consisting of Conard, three town council members and a person from the community. Davenport was the unanimous choice of the assessors and the interview team.

Conard said she was pleased to have found a candidate with the technical skills of police work and demonstrated experience supervising staff and managing a department. She also noted his appreciation for a small community and the importance of building relations with the public.

With Penrod's last day set for the end of the year, Davenport is expected to begin work the first week of January.

News-Times reporter Justin Burnett contributed to this story.

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