South Whidbey resident Mark Brinkman is being remembered not only a trusted Lynnwood police officer, but also as a beloved community member.
Brinkman, who died unexpectedly Sunday night after collapsing in his home, held many roles.
Brinkman was vice president of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs and president of the Lynnwood Police Guild.
“Mark was a very dedicated law enforcement professional, friend, father and husband,” Lynnwood Chief of Police Jim Nelson said in a statement. “Mark was taken from his family and from all of us too soon and we will miss him.”
Brinkman gained national recognition as a leader in DUI enforcement. In fact, NBC News once referred to him as “the nation’s biggest buzz-kill.”
He was also very involved in the South Whidbey community.
Former Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg remembered a 21-year-old Brinkman who applied to become a reserve officer with his department 35 years ago.
“This wasn’t just someone who was out there for the action of arresting people,” Herzberg said. “This was someone who cared and wanted to make a difference.”
Brinkman was with the Langley department for about three years until going to the Island County Sheriff’s Office. He joined the Lynnwood Police Department in 1996.
“He had an incredible sense of humor,” Herzberg said. “He’d just give you some one-liners that would make you explode in laughter.”
During training for the sheriff’s office, Brinkman was in a car accident and sustained a serious injury.
“They were telling us the first 24 hours that they didn’t expect him to make it,” Herzberg said.
Brinkman made a miraculous recovery, however, and eventually returned to work.
Brinkman also served as a youth pastor at South Whidbey Assembly of God for 20 years.
Pastor Matt Chambers said Brinkman was his close friend and confidante. Kids knew him as the DARE officer in the South Whidbey School District, but also from his teaching Sunday mornings at South Whidbey Assembly of God.
“He was a favorite because he would always tell cop stories,” Chambers said. “I have preacher stories. Mark had cop stories.”
Kevin Martin has known Brinkman since the 1990s when Brinkman was his youth pastor. He later worked alongside him in 2009 in an internship role as a youth pastor.
“He was a full-time police officer,” Martin said. “He didn’t have to be or need to be a youth pastor, but he cared so much about the community and youth on South Whidbey that he believed it was worth the effort and time to invest in them.”
Brinkman and his wife were part of a leadership team that took kids to Mexico.
“Year after year,” said Chambers, Brinkman and his wife gave up vacation time to take high school kids to the San Joaquin Valley in Mexico, where they would spend a week with “very poor kids” doing Vacation Bible School, crafts and other activities.
South Whidbey Assembly of God will host a memorial for Brinkman. Seating will be limited, so the church will live-streaming the event on its Facebook page.
Community members are also sharing memories and photos on the website, officermarkbrinkman.com.