Officer Darryl Stamey says goodbye to retired Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer.
Officer Darryl Stamey says goodbye to retired Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer.

One of Cherie Harris’ earliest impressions of Tim Quenzer was thinking it seemed unusual for a police chief to pursue an armed suspect himself.  

But that’s what happened, said Harris, former Monroe deputy police chief and now Kirkland police chief. A Monroe pharmacy had been held up at gunpoint. Quenzer, in an unmarked squad car, helped track and take the alleged robber into custody.

Harris’ was among many stories offered up by Quenzer’s current and former coworkers last Monday. 

Dozens had gathered for a last retirement reception in Monroe to see him off Monday, April 30 — his last day on the job was the following day. The event celebrated a 46-year career in law enforcement and 16 years with the Monroe Police Department.

Mayor Geoffrey Thomas presented him with a Key to The City in mid-April.

“He’s an incredible man, and he will be missed very much,” said Monroe Deputy Police Chief Ken Ginnard.

Quenzer admitted it was rare he would go out on calls. Another one of the few times he went to a crime scene was when an escaped prisoner was in Monroe. Shots were fired, and one of his officers was hit by friendly fire.

Ginnard, Harris and Monroe Police administrative director Debbie Willis were some of Quenzer’s closest colleagues in attendance, said his son, Jackson. His wife, Kim, was already in Louisiana at the couple’s new home.

She left a message for her husband that was read aloud at last Monday’s reception. She told him to get ready to put his feet up, light a cigar and prepare to plan the “next Quenzer adventure.”

Many of those who spoke about Quenzer took time to thank him for how he had impacted their careers and lives. Sgt. Ryan Irving said he brought a great sense of humor to the department.

Willis said not many people know, but she worked with him on and off for the past 30 years. When the second airplane hit the World Trade Center, she called him first.

Quenzer’s son echoed that when something goes wrong, he goes to his dad. His daughter, Ashlyn Elter, said he upholds his integrity and places family above all else.

“I couldn’t ask for a better dad,” she said.

Quenzer was born in South Dakota. His father was a minister, and the family moved to Dusty, Washington when he was 6 years old. The tiny, unincorporated community is about 30 miles northwest of Pullman. The population is about a dozen people, he said.

His affinity for speed became apparent early on. Now it manifests in a love of motorcycles. Citations were already piling up in high school.

He credits one Washington State Trooper in particular for inspiring his interest in law enforcement. The man was fair and professional each time he contacted Quenzer.

“I was impressed with him,” he said. “I’m sure I deserved the tickets.”

Quenzer started out with the Washington State Patrol, and eventually graduated from the University of Louisville Justice Administration, Police Command School and Shoreline Community College. While with WSP he served as a sergeant, lieutenant, and then district commander, overseeing thousands of employees. He worked as assistant chief of the Washington State Patrol in Olympia before he retired from the agency in 2001.

Former Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser asked him to join the department as interim police chief in 2002. He ended up staying for the long haul. Willis said it is uncommon for a police chief to work with a city for more than half a decade.

Thomas said Quenzer played a major role in Monroe’s growth for the past 16 years. Quenzer helped the city transition from a population of 13,000 to more than 18,000. He also served as city administrator for a stint.

“Your leadership speaks volumes for how our community has developed over time,” Thomas said.

Monroe City Councilmembers Kevin Hanford and Jason Gamble said the chief impacted them both professionally and personally. He had been there for them when their families were going through a tough time.

“Louisiana don’t know what’s coming,” Gamble said.

Harris credits Quenzer for developing professional standards and complaint protocol for the department. She also thanked Quenzer for her poker face, which people have told her is sometimes too good.

Quenzer said one of the most influential moments in his career was a former coworker, who was known for talking little, but when he did people would listen. He often tried to emulate that attitude. Putting that distance between his emotions and reaction also helped him better respond to trying situations on the job. It would also buy him some time if he needed to mull over a new idea from an employee.

Willis spoke to his well-known demeanor. She said it would be hard to know if a request was immediately rejected or being thoroughly considered.

Quenzer said he decided it was time to retire this spring, after some self-reflection. He is looking forward to alligator sausage and nice weather. He said being named Monroe’s police chief was the greatest honor he had received in his nearly five-decades-long career. There is one thing he will miss the most.

“The people, the people, they are great people,” he said.