Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain announced his intent to retire from the department June 30, ending his more than eight-year tenure in the position.
“I entered law enforcement – in part – to be a change agent, and I feel I’ve accomplished that,” McElvain said in a statement. “I find this to be an appropriate time to move aside for new leadership.”
McElvain, who was sworn in as Vancouver’s chief in December 2013, come to the agency with 28 years of experience in law enforcement in southern California. He offered a unique perspective in the role with a doctoral degree in sociology that emphasized criminal justice and race and class equity.
“During the last two years, he has been a steady, compassionate leader through some of the most tumultuous times for policing in a generation,” Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes said. He added that McElvain improved police and community relations through bolstering the department’s transparency, accountability and equity.
Under McElvain’s leadership, the police department adopted recommendations made by the Police Research Forum to improve its culture and practices surrounding officers’ use of force. Vancouver police also oversaw the creation and implementation of a body camera pilot program.
McElvain led efforts to establish the department’s own records division after outsourcing to Clark County for more than 20 years. He fostered relations between the chief’s office and the Vancouver Police Officers Guild and Command Guild, as well as worked toward promoting the department as a dependable community resource.
Vancouver city staff will conduct a nationwide search to find a new police chief and work with McElvain to allow for an easy transition.