Battle Ground Police Chief Bob Richardson is set to retire in February, City Manager Erin Erdman announced last week.
Richardson has served as chief for nine years, according to the announcement, capping off nearly four decades of his career in law enforcement. Most of that time was spent with the Irvine Police Department in California for 30 years before his move to the Battle Ground post.
Erdman commended Richardson “for his leadership, professionalism and dedication to this community” in the announcement.
“Under his direction the department has made tremendous strides in service and in relationships with the community. We are sad to see Bob go but wish him the best in retirement. He will be missed,” Erdman stated.
Richardson’s official last day is Feb. 14. The announcement listed several developments with BGPD during his tenure, based on a “special emphasis on building a solid relationship with the Battle Ground community.”
Some of those included starting a victim’s advocate program, supporting school-based diversion and detention alternatives to help juvenile justice reforms, helping to found the Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance, providing officers access to defibrillators, Naloxone and necessary training for those tools, as well as improvements in addressing approaches to trauma and mental health.
Richardson received accolades from the Northwest Justice Forum and the Washington State Public Health Association for implementing restorative justice practices within BGPD, the announcement mentioned. He has also initiated several cost-saving measures for the department regarding public records, evidence collection and the city’s court bailiff program, according to the announcement.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve and be part of the Battle Ground community,” Chief Richardson stated in the announcement. “I have a great deal of respect for our police department personnel who, with limited resources, work hard on a daily basis to provide quality service to our community.”
Upon Richardson’s departure, BGPD Lt. Mike Fort will take the helm of the department, according to the release. The lieutenant position will not be replaced to meet budgetary constraints while keeping the number of patrol officers the same.
Erdman said Fort’s working relationships with Richardson and the community prepared him well for the transition, adding he is looking forward to leading the department.
Hired by Richardson in January 2018, Fort spent 26 years with the Portland Police Bureau, graduating from the FBI National Academy in 2016, the announcement stated, adding he has lived in Clark County for 15 years.