News

Longtime officer fills chief's role

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

A veteran of more than 10 years with the Black Diamond Police Department is running the show these days.

Jamey Kiblinger is carrying an “interim” title as police chief, essentially giving the department's top job a test drive before committing to anything permanent.

How the current situation came about is something of a twisted tale.

Longtime Police Chief Rick Luther retired with the close of 2007, but had spent a couple of years wearing two full-time hats, also serving as Black Diamond's city administrator. During that time, Kiblinger, as department commander, took on many of the day-to-day responsibilities Luther would have normally handled.

She seamlessly slid into the chief's role when Luther departed, holding down the fort while city officials conducted a search for a new chief. Kiblinger did not toss her hat into the ring at that time.

Following a round of interviews, the city settled on a No. 1 choice to become the new chief - but the candidate promptly took another job in the area.

At that juncture, City Administrator Gwendolyn Voelpel asked Kiblinger to consider trying on the chief's job - just to see if it was a good fit, personally and professionally.

And that's where the situation sits today.

“For now, it's on hold,” Voelpel said, referring to the city's search for a chief. Having Kiblinger in charge, she added, “is the best thing for the department.”

Voelpel isn't applying any pressure, satisfied to let Kiblinger work as chief until she decides to accept the post on a permanent basis or asks to return to her previous role.

“I want to keep it open at this time,” Voelpel said. “I'm not going to set an artificial timeline.”

Kiblinger, too, is comfortable with the present situation and the “interim” tag.

“I really want to make a good decision,” she said, not a hasty one.

Besides, she's not in unfamiliar surroundings. “I really have been running the day-to-day stuff for a couple of years,” she said, noting that Luther had to focus most of his attention on other city matters.

Kiblinger joined the department more than a decade ago, advancing through the ranks until she shared co-commander status with now-retired Christopher Hurst. She initially oversaw the patrol side of the department's operation, then switched to administration.

Kiblinger downplays any notion that the department is negatively impacted without a permanent chief at the helm.

“The staffing has been very stable and we have a great group of people,” she said.

The Black Diamond Police Department has a dozen commissioned officers, a full-time records clerk and part-time administrative help.

In other personnel news, the city of Black Diamond last week hired people for two key positions. Each slot is new to the city roster, deemed necessary due to the anticipated growth facing the city in the next few years.

Hired were Jana King as deputy finance director and Amy Donlan as permit technician supervisor. King is leaving a post with the city of Milton and Donlan will head to Black Diamond from the city of Issaquah. Each will begin their duties in early March.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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