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New Oak Harbor police chief is finally official

Rick Wallace, left, receives his chief’s badge from Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik at Monday’s City Council meeting. The Oak Harbor Police Department interim chief and longtime second-in-command was recently chosen for the top spot. - Paul Boring / Whidbey News-Times
Rick Wallace, left, receives his chief’s badge from Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik at Monday’s City Council meeting. The Oak Harbor Police Department interim chief and longtime second-in-command was recently chosen for the top spot.
— image credit: Paul Boring / Whidbey News-Times

After cutting his teeth in the Oak Harbor Police Department as the second-in-command, a personal choice, Rick Wallace finally took the plunge and emerged as the top choice for chief.

Mayor Jim Slowik was chomping at the bit, eager to make the promotion official at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Wallace underwent a “grueling time,” the mayor said, persevering through an extensive interview process.

“It was a long process,” Slowik said. “I know that it was not easy. I hope this is the last time I call you Captain Wallace.”

The city received 15 applications that were ultimately whittled down to four candidates, including Wallace. Lt. John Dyer, a colleague of the new chief, made the short list, as did Thomas Molitor with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department, and a security professional.

Slowik underscored the quality of all four candidates. In the end, Wallace’s more than 30 years with the department and his solid working relationship with the city elevated him to the top of the heap.

With his wife Rhonda in attendance, as well as peers from the department, the anticipation and electricity in the stifling board room was almost palpable. The affable Wallace has been a favorite in the city, known for his good nature and professionalism.

“I’m just very appreciative for this appointment,” he said. “I’ll do my best.”

Lt. Tim Sterkel said the department was pleased with the selection.

“We totally support him,” he said.

Wallace was able to step out of the limelight before numerous threats of exposing incriminating anecdotal material became part of the meeting’s minutes. Even Rhonda jokingly threatened to add some color to the proceedings.

“She needs to go now,” Wallace said to a chorus of laughter.

The brief ceremony was a longtime coming. As Slowik passed Wallace his shiny, new badge, the deal was sealed and applause thundered through city hall.

Wallace has been captain since 1995, taking over interim police chief duties in December after former Chief Steve Almon moved back to his home state of Oklahoma.

The salary range for police chief is $6,280 to $8,194 a month. Wallace has been making $72,080 a year plus he received a 10 to 15 percent premium pay for filling the interim chief position.

Community Events, April 2014

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