Tigard Police Chief McAlpine Named Finalist for Tacoma Chief Position

Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine
Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine

On Tuesday, November 9, the Tacoma, Wash. Police Department announced Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine has been selected as one of four finalists to replace outgoing interim Tacoma Police Chief Mike Ake.

Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine. Tigard Life/File Photo

McAlpine has served as Tigard’s police chief since April 2017. Before her appointment, she worked for the Tacoma Police Department for 31 years, starting in 1986 as a patrol officer and leaving as the department’s Assistant Chief of Police.

The City of Tacoma has said it expects to name a new chief sometime in December. 

McAlpine said Wednesday that she was not looking for new career opportunities, but the chance to lead the department where she spent nearly the entirety of her career was too good to pass up. 

“Many of you in the Tigard community know that I came here from Tacoma, where I was an Assistant Chief,” McAlpine said in an email to Tigard Life. “As you’ve seen over my time in Tigard, I believe in being guardians of the community we serve and leading with transparency, character and equity. I was not looking for other opportunities but consider this a special circumstance where I may have the opportunity to lead my hometown department with those same values to build trust between the people of Tacoma and their guardians.” 

McAlpine holds a bachelor’s degree in Workforce, Education and Development from Southern Illinois University; is a graduate of Northwestern University Police Staff and Command Class #321 and has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. 

Since joining the Tigard Police Department, McAlpine has served as the Washington County Law Enforcement Council Chair. She is on the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP) board as a District 2 Representative and serves on OACP’s Homeless Task Force and as a board member of the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. She also serves on the regional Building Bridges Steering Committee, which focuses on building understanding between police and the communities they serve.

McAlpine also helped lead the effort in 2020 to convince Tigard voters to approve a $5.5 million police services levy that is funding eight new patrol officers, a school resource officer position, a property and evidence specialist, a bilingual records specialist and additional advanced crisis intervention training for the department’s officers. All but one of those positions – the bilingual records specialist – have since been filled. 

“I communicated to the people within the Tigard Police Department about this possibility yesterday, but I do not want it to distract anyone from the task at hand: to protect and serve all who live, work and play in this great city,” she said. “I have the utmost respect for the other three finalists and want to respect the interview process. I ask for everyone’s patience as the City of Tacoma makes its selection. Regardless of the outcome, the Tigard Police Department will continue to do great work as the progressive, professional organization this city deserves.”

In Tacoma, former Chief Don Ramsdell’s announced his retirement in July 2020 soon after the death in custody of Manuel Ellis. Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, was killed by Tacoma police March 3, 2020, not long before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off a national wave of protests and demands for police reform. Three Tacoma officers are facing criminal charges in Ellis’ death; two officers have been charged with second-degree murder and one officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

Ake has been serving as interim chief in Tacoma since December 2020.