Former Port Angeles police chief dies

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

print Print This | Email This

Most Popular this week

Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.

PORT ANGELES — Former city Police Chief Michael A. Cleland died Saturday from complications of a stroke in Olympia.

The Tumwater man was 71.

Cleland was head of the city police force from June 1978 to March 1992.

Former Clallam County Sheriff Steve Kernes, who served from 1979 to 1990, developed a close working relationship with Cleland during those years and maintained a personal relationship later in life.

“He was a very good chief to work with,” Kernes said.

“I was saddened by the news.”

Cleland and Kernes met for coffee Thursday mornings and eventually worked together to establish the consolidated Peninsula Communications 9-1-1 dispatch center and the region's first drug task force, which later became the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team.

'Set the tone'

“It took a chief like him to be able to have both of those things come together,” Kernes said.

Kernes said Cleland “set the tone” for law enforcement on the North Olympic Peninsula and was a “very fair” cop.

“He was honest,” Kernes said, “and he made sure his department always investigated crimes to the best of its abilities.”

Current Police Chief Terry Gallagher said Cleland also was responsible for bringing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program to the area.

Cleland assigned Gallagher to be the first D.A.R.E. officer in Clallam County.

“Mike also played a big part in the formation of PenCom,” Gallagher wrote in an email to the Peninsula Daily News.

“Prior to PenCom all agencies had their own dispatch centers. A consolidated, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional 9-1-1 communication center was a huge accomplishment at the time.”

Born in Lawton, Okla., in November 1941, Cleland spent a year in Japan at age 12 while his father was serving in the Army.

He graduated from Olympia High School in 1959, according to an obituary published Thursday in The Olympian.

After working a variety of jobs as a young adult, Cleland became a volunteer firefighter and eventually landed a job with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for many years before accepting the job in Port Angeles.

He married his best friend, Sandra Brigham, in 1978.

Cleland retired after his service as Port Angeles police chief and returned to the Olympia area to be close to family.

In retirement

He spent a portion of his retirement working for the Traffic Safety Commission and traveled through the Western states with his wife on their motorcycles and recreational vehicle.

Cleland is survived by his wife, Sandy; children Sherri Hoddle (Bryan), Jeff Cleland (Michelle) and Heather Beaver (Dennis); eight grandchildren from age 12 to 25; sister Pat Gillenwater; and lots of extended family and friends.

At Cleland's request, there will be no service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society ( or American Diabetes Association (

Funeral Alternatives of Washington (360-753-1085) is handling the arraignments.

Memories of Cleland can be left at


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at

Last modified: January 03. 2013 5:52PM
Reader Comments
Local Business
Friends to Follow

To register a complaint about a comment, email and refer to the article and offending comment, or click here: REPORT ABUSE. comments are subject to the User Policy.

From the PDN:

All materials Copyright © 2017 Black Press Ltd./Sound Publishing Inc. • Terms of UsePrivacy PolicyAssociated Press Privacy PolicyAssociated Press Terms of UseContact Us