The plan was for interim Police Chief Dana Powers to move into the position full time within the year, but in April, a rising young star moved past Powers on the organization chart to take over the department as chief.
“It happens,” Powers said with a shrug and a smile.
The demotion was only temporary, however, as the department participated in the Chief For a Day program, welcoming William Knight III, to the Public Safety Building for a peak at the world of police work.
“I told him ‘Thank goodness I can take a day off finally,'” Powers joked.
The program, sponsored by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, celebrates the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening conditions. Bonney Lake is one of 27 police agencies around t he state participating. This is Bonney Lake’s first year in program.
Knight, 7, is a somewhat shy second-grader at Emerald Hills Elementary. He was born several months premature and was diagnosed with missing one of the four valves in the heart that helps control blood flow.
As a baby, Knight had surgery to install a replacement valve, which needs to be replaced as he grows. His second and most recent surgery was in October, according to his parents, Rachael and William Knight II.
The present valve is expected to last for several years and at a recent six-month check-up, the new chief was given a clean bill of health, perfect for police work.
“We’re celebrating this kid, who had a rougher start than most of us,” Powers said recently, her eyes lighting up and big smile spreading across her face as she talked about Knight.
Department Administrative Assistant Louise Emery brought the program o the department’s attention and School Resource Officer Todd Green got Knight’s name from the school.
“He’s a great kid,” Emery said, adding that her advice to Knight was to answer every question with “It’s not in the budget!”
The advice proved prescient as after taking over the department, one of the officers asked Knight for a raise.
Remembering the moment, a sly smile creeps across Knight’s face as he again repeats “No.”
Knight said he did not give an unusual orders, such as painting the cars green, but that won’t necessarily stop him from doing so in the future.
Knight also said he looks forward to being able to play with the lights and sirens in a police car.
But there was one special perk for the incoming chief. Knight said Powers showed him a “secret stash” of something in her office, but Knight is a real cop’s cop and true to the Thin Blue Line, he refused to divulge the secret.
“No,” he said, his eyes dancing with his first opportunity to stymie a reporter, “I can’t tell you.”
Knight was given a tour of the offices and met many of his new officers, as well as being introduced to this year’s Citizens Academy class, but his duties as chief are not over yet. Knight will also be the grand marshal at this year’s Bonney Lake Days parade and introduce one of the city’s movies at the park this summer. The city is working on additional plans to keep Knight involved and are also organizing a fund drive to help pay for his treatment and to help the family buy items from their wish list – provided to the police department, though the modest family said they felt odd about it – while they pay for his ongoing treatments and doctor visits.
The department has set up an account at Key Bank and has a collection can located at the Public Safety Building for citizens who want to help out. Additional events are also in the works.
As part of being chief for a day, Knight will also be treated to a day-long celebration with the other chiefs on Aug. 16. He will get a tailored uniform and badge and be transported in a police car as part of a motorcade to CenturyLink Field, where there will be presentations and demonstrations on everything from K-9 units, mounted patrols, SWAT teams and a military helicopter.
Knight, however, is not letting his new ranking go to his head, though the flyers from the city did impress some of his non-believing friends from the neighborhood and he has already tried to pull rank on his parents at least once.
But he does think the parade will be a lot of fun and the motorcade to Seattle sounds like a good time as well.
His parents were excited for the opportunities for Knight and said they hope to make these all “teachable moments” about law enforcement for him. They are also thankful to be a part of the program.
“We’re grateful Will was chosen and we thank all the people that support William and all the other kids,” Rachael Knight said.
Down at the station, the department and Powers are awaiting Knight’s return and hope to make the Chief For a Day program an annual event.
“We’ve got his uniforms ordered and we’re ready to roll,” Powers said. “He’s going to be part of our family for the whole summer.”
To donate money to the Knight family, visit the Bonney Lake Key Bank and ask for the “Chief For a Day” account.