KCSO names new undersheriff

Nearly one month after a convincing win in the midterm elections, Sheriff John Gese has appointed a new undersheriff for his first four-year term.

The position was opened up when Undersheriff Steve Duckworth announced his retirement from law enforcement Dec. 2. Duckworth’s career in the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office began in 1999, where he served in the patrol, traffic and detective divisions of the force.

Duckworth continued to move up in the force, returning to the patrol as a sergeant in 2009 and then as the Chief of Patrol in 2015 before Gese named him undersheriff in Aug. 2021.

Kitsap County played host to the majority of Duckworth’s 30-plus year career in law enforcement, a career that the KCSO described as “exemplary”.

With big shoes to fill, KCSO announced Dec. 5 that Chief of Detectives and Support Services Russ Clithero would assume the position of undersheriff effective immediately. Clithero brings a similar level of seniority and experience to the table, having served in KCSO since 1994. Most recently, he served as the Chief of Detectives, the same position held by Duckworth before his own promotion to undersheriff.

Clithero is also a graduate of the 272nd session of the FBI National Academy and was the commander of the KCSO SWAT team for a time among other positions.

Clithero’s previous position as Chief of Detectives and Support Services was filled by Chad Birkenfeld. As a graduate of Olympic High School and Olympic College, Birkenfeld has grown up familiar with Kitsap County and began his work with KCSO in 1998. He has primarily served in the detectives’ division, working as a detective for 14 years. Before his latest promotion, he served as Detective Lieutenant in 2021.

Birkenfeld has been twice recognized in the KCSO as Deputy of the Year in 2000 and 2011 and was also a recipient of the Sheriff’s Award for Professional Excellence among other awards and decorations.