Linville selects final candidate for city's new police chief

Clifford Cook, a longtime law enforcement professional who has served with departments in Vancouver, Wash., and Fort Worth, Texas, has been identified by Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville as the final candidate for the city’s next police chief.

Outgoing chief Todd Ramsay announced his retirement in September. Ramsay will officially leave the position on Dec. 31.

Cook, 57, had most recently been chief of police in Vancouver, but he resigned the position in September of this year.

His tenure appears to have been marked by several inner-departmental controversies, including a no-confidence vote from the Vancouver police union in 2010 and last year having Vancouver’s city manager overturn his decision to fire one of his department’s officers for improper conduct, according to reports by The Oregonian of Portland, Ore.

Yet Mayor Linville identified Cook’s breadth of leadership and management experience, ethical and respectful demeanor and expertise in all facets of law enforcement—from community building to tactical operations—as key strengths that led to her identifying him as her top candidate.

“Cliff is a strong, steady, ethical professional with the experience and skills necessary to lead us into the future as our police chief, according to what we’ve learned throughout our extensive hiring process,” Linville said, in a press release.

Echoing the mayor’s support, Bellingham Police Guild President Chad Cristelli and Bellingham Police Leutenant Mike Johnston both made positive comments regarding Cook joining the city’s department.

“The Bellingham Police Guild appreciates the opportunity to participate in the selection process for our new chief,” Cristelli said. “We will welcome Chief Cook to our community, our city and our police department. We remain steadfast in our dedication to serving the community and expect Chief Cook to play a vital role representing the Bellingham Police Department.”

In his own statement, Cook said he was “personally honored” by the mayor’s decision to select him as the final candidate.

“I look forward to building close and productive relationships with Mayor Linville, the City Council, city department heads, my management team and other members of the Bellingham Police Department, and the citizens of Bellingham,” Cook said.

Linville has initiated the hiring process for Cook, which includes a background check and other state requirements. The mayor said she expects to complete the process and make a final offer in early January.

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