Kelso Police Chief Andrew Hamilton Announces Retirement
Kelso Police Chief Andrew Hamilton has announced his retirement from the City effective April 30th, 2019. His retirement letter was accompanied by the statement below:
“Based on current events over the last couple weeks, I’ve discussed with my wife future plans and realize that now would be a great time for me to retire. I’ve had a number of role models since working at the Kelso Police Department that made me the person, police officer, and chief I am today. Several decades ago, I remember my friend and mentor Chief Steve Scibelli personally calling me to tell me that he was retiring. At that time, I was devastated, but he explained to me that it is good to have growth within the police department and his retirement would allow the department to grow. Today, as I make this decision, I share the same truth that Chief Scibelli shared with me. I’m very proud of the department as a whole and the accomplishments the Kelso Police Department has made under my leadership, and I look forward to the department’s positive growth.
“I started with the Kelso Police Department in November 1987 after serving two years as a reserve police officer for Kelso. Over my 32 years with Kelso Police I’ve worked in every aspect of our department, including patrol, detectives, the Kondro homicide task force, the Narcotics Task Force, and with a number of community policing projects. Working as a police sergeant and captain were also high points in my career. I have always tried to lead by example and I’m proud of the legacy that I am leaving for the next chief. Early in my career while working with the Safe Kids Coalition I received the Governor’s Award from Governor Gary Locke. As part of Safe Kids, I traveled to the White House. Later in my career I was invited a second time to the White House due to my work with the 21st-Century Policing Model.
“Other accomplishments during my law enforcement career include cases that I handled as a detective, and the most memorable were helping victims of child sexual assault. In addition, my work on the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force exposed me to a number of people who later thanked me for treating them professionally, and who later became clean because of the message that I gave them. As a detective it was very gratifying to bring closure to a number of people and families who are affected by the homicides cases I have worked on. I’m also very proud of the partnerships the department has established with our schools, local business, and other agencies.
“As a police professional, I have been involved in the Oregon-Washington Lawmen’s Association where I served as an executive member and past president. I was also appointed by the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission to their hearing panel for law enforcement decertification hearings. Over the past 10 years I served as the presiding member over many of the hearings to hold police officers accountable. Locally, I helped to coordinate the National Night Out event for Kelso Police, and the Citizen’s Academy which partners with other agencies to showcase and teach the community about our difficult professional jobs. Through our partnership with the Kelso School District, I developed and started one of three vocational-type police science high school classes in the State of Washington. Most recently, I have started a partnership with the churches of all religious denominations to communicate and discuss safety within each congregation. “As the chief some of my personal high points included being able to hire and watch the new officers grow into great professional police officers. There is no doubt that the department will prosper and enjoy positive growth moving forward.”
“As the chief of the Kelso Police Department for the last 10 years, it has truly been an honor to work with the great men and women of this department. I often share with the public how blessed I have been as the chief to have such high-quality professionals working for me. After talking with the city manager and advising him of my retirement, I will wait my mandatory 30 days (per the Washington State Department of Retirement System) before I start looking towards my next venture and what my future will bring.
“Chief Hamilton’s selfless service to the Kelso community spanning over three decades is a model for future law enforcement leaders to emulate,” said City Manager Steve Taylor. “His deep ties to the residents and businesses in Kelso made him one of the most effective chiefs in our city’s long history. Andrew’s dedication to public safety and community outreach is second to none, and he leaves behind a department that adheres to the highest level of professionalism.”
City Manager Taylor announced that Captain Darr Kirk will be appointed as the interim Kelso Police Chief effective 5:00 pm on Tuesday 04/30/2019.