A longtime officer handed in his gun and badge and is picking up chalk and a lesson plan, at least metaphorically.
Capt. Mike Bailey retired from the Oak Harbor Police Department last week after 30 years with the department. Instead of heading to the golf course, he will be working as a substitute teacher with the Coupeville School District.
During his tenure in law enforcement, Bailey took on the role of nearly all the commissioned officers in the department, including some that no longer exist.
He was a reserve officer for two years before being hired as a commissioned officer, which has been his job for the last 28 years and five months. He’s been a patrol officer, a canine officer, a detective, a SWAT member, a patrol sergeant, a community service sergeant and a detective sergeant. He was named captain in 2017.
“I’m fortunate in my career with Oak Harbor that I got to do everything the department has to offer,” he said. “It was just a great time.”
While he enjoyed every job, he said he most enjoyed being a detective because he relished investigating and bringing a measure of justice for victims. Bailey was the last person at the department who was working during the 1997 murder of 7-year-old Deborah Palmer, which remains unsolved. Although his role as a captain has been largely administrative, it had been his case in recent years.
Bailey said the Oak Harbor community has very friendly toward law enforcement throughout his career. He said he would occasionally ride around town on one of the department’s bicycles and inevitably people would come up to him to thank him for his service.
“There’s so much support the police department gets here,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible.”
Chief Kevin Dresker said Bailey was an essential part of the department’s effort to become accredited through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs in November 2020, which was the first time it achieved that recognition.
“He was instrumental in updating, modernizing, and professionalizing the department’s policies, procedures, and practices and was awarded the department’s Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding organizational abilities and accomplishments towards the department’s mission,” Dresker said in a press release.
Bailey said he looks forward to being in the classroom. His wife is a teacher in Oak Harbor and he’s no stranger to teaching, whether it was conducting training for other officers, teaching the citizens’ academy or coaching kids.
“I’m closing this chapter of my life and moving on to another,” he said.