Cali cop gets BI deputy chief job

The Bainbridge Island Police Department has named a California cop with emergency management and neighborhood-oriented policing experience as its new deputy chief.

Lt. Jon Fehlman, a lieutenant in the Santa Rosa Police Department’s investigations bureau, will replace retiring Bainbridge Deputy Chief Mark Duncan on Dec. 1, the city announced on Thursday.

The 23-year law enforcement veteran bested about 45 other candidates from across the country, as well as Australia and Haiti.

“All the possible candidates had the technical requirements, but after that it’s about finding the right fit for our community,” said Bainbridge Chief Matt Haney. “(Fehlman) has the experience we need at this time on Bainbridge.”

Fehlman’s track record of developing and training officers “was a definite deciding factor” in his selection, Haney said.

“He has a personal commitment to mentoring people who show the interest and aptitude for advancement,” Haney said. “This will be very valuable to us as we seek to grow our police department and promote officers from within.”

Fehlman’s masters degree in emergency services administration and special training with national emergency management systems also made him a standout candidate, and a timely one. As a cost-cutting measure, the city recently announced it would eliminate its emergency services coordinator position, placing many of its duties on the deputy chief’s shoulders.

Haney also highlighted Fehlman’s work supervising neighborhood policing teams. Bainbridge police recently began bolstering officer interaction with neighborhoods and community groups, which is expected to improve crime prevention and speed up crime solving, Haney said.

As a National Alliance on Mental Illness board member, Fehlman comes equipped to help Bainbridge handle the rise in incidents involving the mentally ill, Haney said.

Fehlman’s other volunteer work includes service on a Santa Rosa chamber of commerce leadership program, United Against Sexual Assault board membership and chairmanship of a community multicultural board.

Fehlman was the unanimous choice on the department’s five member hiring panel, which included representatives from the school district, city and fire department.

Haney spent two days in Santa Rosa interviewing Fehlman, several of his fellow officers and community members.

“They were extremely sorry to see him go, but they support him as an officer and administrator,” Haney said.

Fehlman, who could not be reached for comment, leaves a department serving a population six times larger than Bainbridge.

Santa Rosa had six reported homicides, 75 rapes, 175 robberies and over 1,600 assaults in 2006.

Bainbridge, by comparison, had no homicides, six rapes, 18 robberies and 90 assaults.

It wasn’t so much Fehlman’s experience policing in a mid-size city that made him a good fit for Bainbridge,

“Santa Rosa has about 150,000 people, but he also worked for 12 years in Laguna Beach,” Haney Said.

Laguna Beach, Calif. is an expensive seaside community of about 24,000 people, which is about the same population as Bainbridge.

Fehlman is married with five sons ranging in age from nine to 20.