Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer hands Officer Trevor Young the Officer of the Year award at city hall on Tuesday, March 6.
Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer hands Officer Trevor Young the Officer of the Year award at city hall on Tuesday, March 6.

After 16 years leading the department, Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer will be retiring from the force effective May 1. He presided over his last department awards ceremony on March 6, before handing over his letter of resignation.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas read the letter aloud at that night’s Monroe City Council meeting. It was a difficult decision, one that brings to an end a 46-year career in law enforcement.

“When I came to Monroe I had the goal of helping the police department become the best in the State of Washington,” he wrote. “I truly believe that goal has been accomplished, not just because of my actions, but because of the wonderful people in the Monroe Police Department.”

Quenzer thanked his dedicated staff, and highlighted four people he believes made a significant impact on his career. Chief Cheri Harris of the Kirkland Police Department, Monroe Deputy Chief Ken Ginnard, administrative director Debbie Willis, and his wife, Kim, all offered guidance, support and encouragement. 

In his letter, Quenzer recalls when he was hired on. He said he would not require officers to wear bow ties or campaign hats. He also wrote “life is too short to be unhappy with your job.” If staff were feeling negatively about their post, he promised he would find them a new position.

“Evidently everyone had fun, because no one asked me to find them a new job,” he wrote.

Thomas thanked Quenzer for his many years in Monroe. He said it has been a pleasure working with the chief. Quenzer saw three mayors pass through city hall during his service.

He honored a handful of his staff and others that night. Sgt. Ryan Irving received the Chief’s Award, which is the department’s highest recognition of service. He was chosen for his work developing the Community Outreach Team that assists people experiencing homelessness in the community.

It was Irving’s research and dedication to the work that convinced Thomas, Quenzer and the council to approve the program. He made most of the connections on his own, prior to the start of last summer, when the city entered into a two-year interlocal agreement with the Snohomish County Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Program, which brought a part-time embedded social worker on board.

Irving thanked the council for asking the tough questions while making their decisions, as well as his fellow officers for learning to embrace the job and often lending a hand, and Quenzer for getting it started.

The chief read a message the department received from a resident this winter regarding Irving’s efforts. The author’s friend had reached out to Irving for help. Her son was living on the streets. Months would go by without any news about him. She constantly worried about his safety.

“He was on drugs, couchsurfing and shoplifting to get his next fix,” she wrote. “Sergeant Irving contacted this man and just wanted to talk, well it took a few tries and finally with outreach from his family also, he decided he needed help and didn’t want to live the life he was living anymore.”

Irving was a crucial link in getting her friend’s son back home. It will be a daily struggle for the family to help the man heal, but to “go from not knowing where your son was to having him accept help has to mean the world to his family.”

Quenzer also handed out the second Officer of the Year award.

Officer Trevor Larson was praised for his readiness to work, focus and positive attitude at the job every day. He has demonstrated an intuition in detecting criminal activity, and has been a strong leader in many cases, Quenzer said.

“Officer Larson has proved to be dedicated to the professional growth and his work consistently exemplifies excellence,” the chief said.

The department’s chaplains were also honored.

Heather Fox, Michael Hanford, Brad Moore and Michael Penick were lauded for their unwavering commitment to the community. They step up whenever they are needed, and without asking for anything in return, Quenzer said. 

“Your willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks both for your strength and the quality of your character,” Quenzer said. “When you volunteer, you are making a commitment to share the most precious of resources — your time — to make life better for those who are in need.”