Current Battle Ground Police Chief Mike Fort has announced his retirement, effective January 2024.
The chief has served the Battle Ground Police Department since 2018, coming from the Portland Police Bureau. He assumed the role of chief following the retirement of Bob Richardson in early 2020, ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though a specific reason was not given, a release from the city stated “recent personal experiences” led to him to prioritize time with family. It mentioned Fort’s family has a “personal battle with cancer.”
“Given that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I found it a fitting time to announce my retirement from law enforcement,” Fort said in the release.
During his tenure, Fort supported the department’s school resource officer program, developed a traffic unit, increased detective capacity and the implementation of a drone program, the release stated.
“The past six years at the Battle Ground Police Department have been the most rewarding experience of my career,” Fort said in the release.
During his tenure, the department got a boost after the city was annexed into Clark County Fire District 3. Following the voter-approved annexation, Battle Ground had more property tax revenue to use.
Of that revenue, about $550,000 was used for the 2021 police budget, leading to new hires and increased programs, Fort said in an opinion piece after the overwhelming vote to approve the annexation.
The chief said he had confidence the rest of the department will continue to serve Battle Ground “with the compassion and professionalism” that residents have come to expect.
“This is the best police department I have ever known,” Fort said. “I will miss you all.”
Fort’s 32-year law enforcement career ended with him in charge of a department experiencing both the impacts of the pandemic and changes to how law enforcement could operate following 2021 legislation, the release noted.
City Manager Erin Erdman said Fort was a "compassionate and dedicated leader.”
“He has expertly guided the men and women of the Battle Ground Police Department during his nearly four years as chief, and he will be greatly missed by everyone at the City of Battle Ground,” Erdman said.
The city has contracted with a consultant to handle recruitment for the next BGPD chief, the release stated. The first round of application review is set to begin Oct. 29.