Michael A. Cleland(Former Port Angeles - chief of police)

PORT ANGELES — Former city Police Chief Michael A. Cleland died Saturday from complications of a stroke in Olympia.

The Tumwater man was 71.

Cleland was head of the city police force from June 1978 to March 1992.

Former Clallam County Sheriff Steve Kernes, who served from 1979 to 1990, developed a close working relationship with Cleland during those years and maintained a personal relationship later in life.

"He was a very good chief to work with," Kernes said.

"I was saddened by the news."

Cleland and Kernes met for coffee Thursday mornings and eventually worked together to establish the consolidated Peninsula Communications 9-1-1 dispatch center and the region's first drug task force, which later became the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team.

"It took a chief like him to be able to have both of those things come together," Kernes said.

Kernes said Cleland "set the tone" for law enforcement on the North Olympic Peninsula and was a "very fair" cop.

"He was honest," Kernes said, "and he made sure his department always investigated crimes to the best of its abilities."

Current Police Chief Terry Gallagher said Cleland also was responsible for bringing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program to the area.

Cleland assigned Gallagher to be the first D.A.R.E. officer in Clallam County.

"Mike also played a big part in the formation of PenCom," Gallagher wrote in an email to the Peninsula Daily News.

"Prior to PenCom all agencies had their own dispatch centers. A consolidated, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional 9-1-1 communication center was a huge accomplishment at the time."

Born in Lawton, Okla., in November 1941, Cleland spent a year in Japan at age 12 while his father was serving in the Army.

He graduated from Olympia High School in 1959, according to an obituary published Thursday in The Olympian.

After working a variety of jobs as a young adult, Cleland became a volunteer firefighter and eventually landed a job with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for many years before accepting the job in Port Angeles.

He married his best friend, Sandra Brigham, in 1978.

Cleland retired after his service as Port Angeles police chief and returned to the Olympia area to be close to family.

He spent a portion of his retirement working for the Traffic Safety Commission and traveled through the Western states with his wife on their motorcycles and recreational vehicle.

Cleland is survived by his wife, Sandy; children Sherri Hoddle (Bryan), Jeff Cleland (Michelle) and Heather Beaver (Dennis); eight grandchildren from age 12 to 25; sister Pat Gillenwater; and lots of extended family and friends.

At Cleland's request, there will be no service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (www.nationalmssociety.org) or (www.diabetes.org).

Funeral Alternatives of Washington (360-753-1085) is handling the arraignments.

Memories of Cleland can be left at www.FuneralAlternatives.org.

Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Jan. 4, 2013