Police Chief Kathy McAlpine’s send-off turns into lovefest

At her retirement celebration, Kathy McAlpine thanked everyone in the room for all the support they had shown her over her 6 ½ years as Tigard police chief. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life
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The Broadway Rose Theatre Company, site of Police Chief Kathy McAlpine’s Jan. 5 retirement celebration, was no doubt the safest place to be in Tigard that evening thanks to the high ratio of law enforcement to civilians.

The Tigard Police Department’s top brass and regular rank-and-file officers plus law enforcement officials from across the state along with McAlpine’s family and friends gathered for a sendoff unlike any other.

McAlpine had planned to retire Jan. 24 but left the department in December to begin a new career on Jan. 2 as Deputy Director of Professional Standards with the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards (DPSST) in Salem.

TPD Public Information Officer Kelsey Anderson was mistress of ceremonies for what turned out to be a lovefest for the popular chief. Anderson told McAlpine that she appreciated her “dedication to us from day one,” and then the accolades started. Some of the comments offered by members of the Tigard Police Officers Association and command staff included: “You taught us a lot about leadership.” “We saw you work 15-hour days.” “You are a great leader.” “We can’t express how much you’ve meant to us.” “You do things because you care.” “Thank you for all you’ve done, and congratulations on your new gig.” “Our department is much better off from having you as our chief.”

Many pre-recorded videos from City Hall staff and City Councilors were shown throughout the presentation praising McAlpine for always being available, for her kindness and thoughtfulness, for serving as a role model at all levels and for “leading from your heart.”

Washington County Sheriff Caprice Massey noted, “You have extended your leadership to your county partners. Your legacy will be felt long after you leave your position as chief.”

Several police chiefs from around the state also offered their appreciation to McAlpine via videos and in-person.

Then it was McAlpine’s turn, saying, “I appreciate your kind words, but it is a two-way street. You cannot do what we do without a second-in-command you have confidence in… I didn’t come into a broken agency. I came into a well-respected agency…

“These men and women (in the Police Department) cannot do what they do without your support. Thank you for allowing me to lead them.”

Speaking of her change of heart about retiring, McAlpine said that she could not say no when offered the job at DPSST. “To keep it going is an honor and something I am proud to do,” she said, adding that the chance “to not put all my experience on the shelf” was an opportunity she could not turn down.

Next, people in the audience were invited to step up to the mic, and many took the opportunity, including civilians and law enforcement personnel McAlpine had worked with. And McAlpine’s new boss, DPSST Director Phil Castle, also congratulated her on her retirement.

TPD Interim Chief Jamey McDonald told McAlpine, “Under your leadership, we’ve all become better… You’ve led us well… I remember when you were being selected, and we said we wanted to be challenged. The way you challenged us was remarkable – it was like drinking from a fire hose. When you were on vacation, it felt like we were all on vacation.”

McAlpine’s wife Lynn and son and daughter were front and center at the ceremony, watching proudly as praise was heaped on the chief followed by many gifts and awards.

McAlpine was presented with her retired badge and the rarely awarded TPD Distinguished Service Medal that exemplifies the core values of the department, and because of McAlpine’s leadership, “grace and dedication to service has been the department’s guiding light.”

On accepting the award, McAlpine said, “This means the world to me,” and reassured the audience that she was leaving the “most ethical” police department in good hands.

And among many other gifts McAlpine received was an official-looking Tigard street sign with her name on it.

Before coming to Tigard, McAlpine spent more than 30 years with the Tacoma Police Department, where she started as a patrol officer in 1986 and rose through the ranks to eventually become assistant chief. In Oregon, besides serving as Tigard’s chief for 6 ½ years, she was involved with regional and state law enforcement associations.

She led the TPD to its first state accreditation and subsequent reaccreditation through the Oregon Accreditation Alliance, and she developed the department’s first Strategic Plan to lay out goals, priorities and the future direction of the department over the next three-to-five years.

Statewide, among several positions, McAlpine was a board representative and legislative subcommittee member for the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, and ironically, she was involved with her future employer DPSST as a member of its Police Policy Committee and Application Review Committee.

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