Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo Mayor pro tem Ross Loudenback, left, shakes McCulley’s hand at the North Bend City Council’s recognition of his retirement in June.

Former Snoqualmie Police Chief leaves Valley to serve as police chief in Atherton, Calif.

Former Snoqualmie Police Chief Steve McCulley is leaving the Valley to serve a California community. McCulley, who retired from the Snoqualmie Police Department last June, will become the city of Atherton’s new police chief by May 17. He was the Snoqualmie Police Chief from July 2012 until June of last year.

Atherton is a small, entirely residential community, McCulley said. “It really reminded me of the Snoqualmie Valley.”

North Bend City Administrator Londi Lindell said she’d met with Atherton officials during the background check process for McCulley and “I think it will be a good fit for him, as much as we will miss him. He’ll get to spend a lot of time with the home-owners and the citizens, and there will be a lot of opportunity for that hands-on community-based policing that Steve so excels at.”

McCulley lived in North Bend for more than 20 years, joining the Snoqualmie Police Department as a captain, and successor to Police Chief Jim Schaffer in 2010.

Before he was a city police captain, McCulley was an assistant division commander for Washington State Patrol’s Homeland Security Division, overseeing the state bomb team, counter-terrorism and the massive state ferry system.

His first experience of the Valley was as a State Trooper in the early 1990s, patrolling from the Tiger Mountain summit to the Pass. He and his wife, Lynn, moved to North Bend in 1991.

McCulley was known for his love of parades, and of fireworks, and he combined the two with the launch of a neighborhood Fourth of July celebration in 1998 that still carries on today. He also represented the State Patrol in the Festival at Mount Si (then Alpine Days) parades, driving one of the department’s ’40s or ’50s-era patrol cars.

He was part of many community events, including school assemblies on intoxicated driving, Coffee and Conversations with a Cop, and citizen surveys. He volunteered at Encompass and periodically had lunch with North Bend Elementary School students.

In 2013, he led a group of parents and football fans in relocating the siren from the former North Bend Fire Station 87 to the scoreboard at Mount Si High School, where it sounds whenever the home team scores.

“He was one of the best police chiefs I’ve seen in the area of community-based policing,” said Lindell.

“I appreciate Steve’s service on behalf of the residents of Snoqualmie and his many hours volunteering in support of many organizations such as the YMCA, and Rotary Club. I wish him and his family all the best,” said Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson.

McCulley was at the head of the Snoqualmie department when it began covering the city of North Bend in 2014 and was a strong advocate for community oriented policing, or COP, even after he got the job.

“It’s a proven formula for success,” McCulley told the council during an eight-month review of the partnership. “COP is engaging with your citizens as an integral part of your success… what that means is we engage the citizens. We gain their trust, we gain their confidence, and we get them to call the police, because when they call, they know we’re going to come and they’re going to be treated professionally.”

Lindell was pleasantly surprised by McCulley’s professionalism then. Having worked for much larger cities, she said “it was really nice to see that level of professionalism here.”

Atherton is a city of about 7,000 people, in about 2,500 households.

McCulley was chosen from a pool of more than 30 applicants to replace Ed Flint, who retired in October, and acting chief Joe Wade.

The McCulleys are planning to keep their North Bend home for now, and are looking forward to “doing something for us,” McCulley said. He promises that they will be back, since both daughters Peyton and Megan are attending Washington universities.

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