Everett police officer recalled for serving his community

  • Sat Oct 9th, 2010 5:43pm
  • News

By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer

As an Everett police officer, Michael Hammond answered the call of duty. In all his roles — in a career that later took him to a federal agency, and in his family and community — Hammond went far beyond that call of duty. He was devoted to service.

After her husband died, Jill Hammond received a note from someone who remembered when Mike Hammond served on the board of St. John’s Catholic Church in Mukilteo, long ago.

“I had forgotten all about it. He was always involved in something,” Jill Hammond said.

“He had a heart of gold,” said Jan Hlavaty-Laposa, who worked with Hammond in recent years at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “He would go way beyond whatever he needed to do, for everything.”

Michael Lee Hammond died Aug. 25 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 65.

Hammond also had a chronic illness, transverse myelitis, which his wife described as similar to multiple sclerosis. Health issues forced him to retire, as a lieutenant, from the Everett Police Department in 1996 after 25 years on the force.

Yet he went on to work for Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, and later for FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security. Hammond was Hlavaty-Laposa’s boss at FEMA’s regional center in Bothell. “Mike meant so much to so many,” she said.

Hlavaty-Laposa said Hammond had two titles: He was the technological hazards branch chief, and the radiological advisory committee chairman. Those titles meant two big jobs, she said.

One involved safety planning for chemical weapons stockpiles, located in eastern Oregon. The other was planning for any kind of emergency at the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant in Richland.

Joel Hammond, Mike Hammond’s son, said his father loved his emergency management career, which had evolved from police work.

“He was always in a preparedness kind of mindset,” Joel Hammond said. At the Everett Police Department, his father was involved in planning for disasters and had taught CPR classes.

Joel Hammond has good memories of his father wearing a police uniform. Being the child of an officer wasn’t always easy, “but at the same time it was pretty cool,” he said. His father would come home for dinner, then turn on the police car lights as he left. “If he was working a night shift, we’d meet him for dinner. He had his uniform on. It was really cool,” Hammond said.

Michael Hammond was born to Mike G. and Ruth Hammond on March 8, 1945, in Pittsfield, Ill. His family moved to Everett, and he was raised on Rucker Avenue.

A faithful Catholic, he graduated from St. Edwards Seminary in Kenmore. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970, working on a nuclear decontamination team and on the USS Sperry, a submarine tender, in the Pacific. In 1975, Hammond graduated with a bachelor’s degree in police science and administration from Seattle University.

Married 38 years, he and Jill raised two children, Joel and Janel Hammond. They raised their family in Mukilteo, but moved to Marysville several years ago.

Along with his wife and children, Hammond is survived by his mother, Ruth Hammond, his father and stepmother Mike and Helen Hammond; brothers Steve and Tom Hammond; sisters Mari Edgekoski and Sharon Wandler; and many relatives and friends.

He loved cats, and his wife remembers him finding strays on his police beat and bringing them home. He enjoyed golf, reading and travel, especially to Hawaii. The family spent many happy times skiing at Stevens Pass.

A volunteer with many causes, he had served on the boards of the Everett Animal Shelter and the Everett Community College-based Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest. “That was his love,” Jill Hammond said of the agency originally called the Refugee and Immigrant Forum of Snohomish County.

“He is one of the few people who got this agency going,” said Van Dinh-Kuno, executive director of Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest.

After the Vietnam War, Snohomish County saw an influx of refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. “When they arrived, nobody knew how to go about helping them,” Dinh-Kuno said. Through his church, St. Mary Magdalen in Everett, Hammond saw the needs and helped seek solutions.

“He was still a police officer while serving on the board,” Dinh-Kuno said. “Mike brought in a tremendous amount of information about how the law works. He educated refugee community leaders, and educated refugees themselves.”

He also shared what he learned with police colleagues. “He trained officers about how to deal with people from different cultures. Refugees and immigrants were close to his heart. It’s a big loss,” Dinh-Kuno said.

Hammond’s sister, Sharon Wandler, of Whidbey Island, has a memory that illustrates her brother’s caring nature. “I went to an all-girls boarding school. He sent me a letter once a week,” she said. “I was 14, he was 20.”

Wandler was widowed at 32. When her first husband was killed in a car accident, “I didn’t know what to do. I called my brother Michael,” she said.

“He was somebody you could always depend on,” Wandler said. “He was the one.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.