MUKILTEO — Cheol Kang didn’t believe he was qualified to become a police officer, at first.
Born in South Korea, he grew up in Tacoma with the idea that officers were supposed to be 6-foot-tall and bulky.
“I didn’t think I was big enough,” he said.
He soon found out the job came down to good problem-solving and people skills. He did that well.
After 14 years with the Mukilteo Police Department, Kang, 39, was sworn in as the new police chief earlier this week. Former Police Chief Chuck Macklin left the department in September. He had accepted a job as director of campus security at Everett Community College.
Kang is one for integrating skill sets and maintaining what has been successful in the past. He doesn’t want to make changes just for the sake of making changes.
Most of all, he is focused on bolstering the community that warmly welcomed him, his wife and their two boys.
Kang joined the Mukilteo Police Department after he finished his active duty stint with the Navy. He is now a commander in the Naval Reserve.
Kang is one of several officers in Mukilteo with a military background.
The Military Times selected the department as a Best for Vets employer. About one-third of the department has served in the military.
Kang’s Navy background aided him in his law enforcement career.
After he joined the Mukilteo Police Department, he coordinated a tactical combat casualty care training with Naval Station Everett.
Navy hospital corpsmen taught around 250 police officers countywide about how to take care of someone who is suffering from a traumatic injury.
There are medical techniques, such as using a tourniquet, that can save a life.
Police can apply this knowledge during emergencies such as mass shootings. If there is an active shooter, medics typically cannot immediately enter the scene to assist those who are injured.
Mukilteo police officers now have the tools to step in.
Over the next year, the department hopes to implement a new electronic ticketing system as well as a teen citizens academy.
The academy would provide teenagers with resources to make good life decisions.
“We want them to have the best opportunity to be successful and to help them navigate those teen years,” Kang said.
This type of public-service program is why Kang became a police officer.
At times, the reason officers join law enforcement can become blurry, Kang said. They’re dealing with bad guys and crimes on a regular basis.
On July 30, 2016, Allen Ivanov killed three of his friends and injured a fourth at a Mukilteo house party.
This was the first homicide in Mukilteo in 14 years, Kang said.
For most of the officers, it was the first murder scene.
“It definitely takes a toll,” Kang said. “You have to remind yourself of why you came into this profession.”
For Kang, he is reminded when detectives diligently track down every lead, solve a case and give a victim of a crime some answers.
He is also reminded by the young ones he Christmas shops with during Shop with a Cop every December.
“It’s not all about tickets and arrest,” he said. “It’s about public service.”
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.