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The last chief lasted 169 days and got a $28,000 buyout — here’s who’s replacing him

Donnell Tanksley has been hired as the new police chief for the Blaine Police Department. He last served as Campus Safety/Campus Police Chief at Portland State University.
Donnell Tanksley has been hired as the new police chief for the Blaine Police Department. He last served as Campus Safety/Campus Police Chief at Portland State University. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The city of Blaine has hired a new police chief about three months after the last head of the department resigned after just 169 days on the job.

The position was offered Donnell Tanksley, Blaine City Manager Michael Jones said in a news release Wednesday, May 15.

Tanksley, the chief for the Portland State University Police Department, will lead Blaine’s small police department starting June 24. The city has offered to pay Tanksley $113,000 a year, plus benefits and moving expenses, Jones told The Bellingham Herald.

A contract formalizing his salary and other terms of employment will go before the City Council on May 28, according to the release.

Prior to his job at Portland State University — he started Dec. 1, 2017 — Tanksley served as the assistant chief at Western Washington University for three years, according to a Dec. 22, 2017, article in The Oregonian. Tanksley also served on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for more than 20 years and was a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and Air Force, according to a PSU news release announcing his hire.

“I was really pleased with the caliber of the three candidates that we interviewed,” Jones said in the news release. ”All were highly qualified, but Chief Tanksley excelled in the interviews. His interview combined with his education, experience and references really put him over the top.

“It was a bonus that he worked in Whatcom County in the past and has connections in the local law enforcement community,” Jones added.

Blaine Mayor Bonnie Onyon also praised Tanksley.

“Chief Tanksley’s personable, easy-going demeanor came across during the interviews, and I was really impressed by the time he spent researching the community, meeting with business owners and talking with folks on the street,” she said in the city’s news release.

Tanksley will replace Allen Schubert, who resigned Feb. 4 — only 169 days after being sworn in as the new chief of the Blaine Police Department. The city gave Schubert three months severance of about $28,000.

Tanksley was chief of the Portland State University Police Department when campus police on June 29, 2018, fatally shot a man witnesses said was trying to stop a fight outside a sports bar near campus, according to The Oregonian.

A grand jury later declined to indict the two university police officers in the shooting death of 45-year-old Jason Washington, according to a September 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting story.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.


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