Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker announced Monday that he would be retiring from law enforcement after more than three decades of service.
According to the chief, while national dialogue surrounding policing remains an important issue for him, his departure is unrelated to recent conversations surrounding law enforcement reform.
“I think the national dialogue is absolutely important,” Schoonmaker said. “I am a firm believer that change needs to occur in law enforcement. I will still be a proponent for that and that is something I feel I can continue to do, even though I am no longer in this position.”
“It’s important for me — a guy who has dedicated his life to serving others — that police officers and law enforcement, in general, do what they need to do to better serve all parts of the community,” he added. “Whatever ability I have to continue to look at change and advocate for change, I will continue to do that.”
As for the timing of his decision, Schoonmaker said it was simply time for him step away.
“Why now? Because 30 years of just the accumulation of the things you see on this job, the things you go through on this job, it’s tough. You’ve got to make a certain decision in your life, when the tank is empty, it’s time to move on and get a break.”
Schoonmaker said he was expecting his first grandchild in September and that he was looking forward to spending more time with his family following his retirement. In discussing the rigors of the job, the chief noted that while he accepted the responsibility to handle the stresses of a career in law enforcement, all too often, the families of law enforcement officers must also shoulder that burden as well.
“The people you end up owing for being able to survive a 30-year career is your wife and your kids,” Schoonmaker said. “There is a certain aspect of it: how much do you subject them to before you realize that maybe you’re not being the best you can be to them. This decision has a lot to do with family and what they’ve been through.”
According to a release from the City of Poulsbo, as a result of Schoonmaker’s leadership, “The department changed many internal processes and systems that lead to achieving accreditation through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), an honor shared by only 20 percent of the departments in the State of Washington.”
Schoonmaker said he would remain with the department through the end of August to complete the internal investigation surrounding officer Craig Keller’s use of deadly force during a July 3 fireworks show in downtown Poulsbo. After Schoonmaker’s departure, Deputy Chief Troy Grossman will serve as acting chief until a new chief has been appointed.