WWPD Chief of Police announces retirement

Abby Malzewski and Rosa Woolsey, News Editors


Chief of Police Scott Bieber’s retirement will bring about a transition in leadership at the Walla Walla Police Department. Photo by Nathaniel Martin.

On Oct. 29, the City of Walla Walla published a news update that announced Walla Walla Police Department Chief Scott Bieber’s retirement. Chief Bieber is set to retire on April 30, 2022.

The announcement included a statement from Chief Bieber about his retirement.

“The police department is in a great place. Over the past 9½ years we have hired some fantastic men and women who are dedicated to providing the best possible public safety services to our community,” Bieber said. “They continuously do the right thing and live up to the department motto—’Return with Honor.’ This has been the most fulfilling job of my entire career. I’ve had the professional time of my life.”

On June 28, 2020, President Kathy Murray wrote an email addressed to the Whitman community with the subject title, “Walla Walla Police Department concerns,” following controversy over one of the department’s officers. Community opinion poured in after a photo of a tattoo with an “SS” lightning bolt on the arm of Walla Walla Police Officer Nat Small surfaced online. 

In this email, President Murray explained that the college would no longer work closely with the police department after their response to this incident.

“As a result, Whitman College will no longer hire off-duty Walla Walla Police to provide security at Whitman events, including Commencement,” Murray said. “We will end our practice of allowing law enforcement to conduct training in Whitman facilities when they are not in use. We also revoke, effective immediately, privileges to use Whitman’s Baker Ferguson Fitness Center that had previously been granted as a professional courtesy to local law enforcement officers.”

Since then, no communications have been made to the campus community about the state of the college’s relationship with the Walla Walla Police Department.

New Director of Security Stephen Davis arrived at Whitman in August 2020. When asked to comment on the current relationship between Whitman and the WWPD, Davis reported that since his arrival, campus security has closely worked with the police department for calls-for service, medical emergencies or local noise ordinances.

We plan to continue working together to demonstrate to the Whitman and Walla Walla communities our strong commitment to ensuring a safe community,” Davis said in a prepared email statement to The Wire.

Davis did not mention any cutting of ties or strain with the department in his responses.

“Whitman College and the WWPD share a commitment in the ‘whole-community’ concept of safety and enforcement,” Davis said. “In recent months, Whitman College and the WWPD discussed our preparedness for any potential incidents as well as the college’s capabilities during an emergency.” 

Bieber’s retirement letter was sent to the Walla Walla City Manager. The City’s announcement did not include information on the hiring of his successor. With Bieber’s retirement coinciding with President Murray’s final year at Whitman, leadership transitions are unfolding across the board. As such, the relationship between the College and the WWPD will continue to develop.