After more than 30 years of service, Gerry Myklebust hung up his Tukwila police badge in May. For more than three decades he has been part of the transformation of Tukwila, witnessing the good and often battling against the bad.
Since Myklebust’s first days on the force he has seen the many changing faces of the city.
“Tukwila is a small town with big-town problems,” Myklebust said. “The attitude the public had toward the police was we were like Mayberry, but on the other hand we dealt with the same criminals as Seattle, and to some extent it is the same today.”
The big city crime that Tukwila officers wrestle with was clear from the first day on the job for Myklebust, and even before.
In early 1976, Myklebust had applied for a job as a police officer in Tukwila. He was working as a federal protection officer at the time.
He was at the Tukwila Police Department getting fingerprinted as part of the process of applying for the force when a call came in about a bomb threat at the Doubletree Inn.
“The George Jackson Brigade decided to rob a bank in Tukwila,” Myklebust said. “I was getting fingerprinted and they (the officers) said, ‘You have bomb experience. Do you want to come along?” I said ‘sure.'”
Myklebust ended up in the back seat of an unmarked police vehicle traveling upwards of 90 mph. He said by the time they got to the bank, the brakes were so hot the officer driving could not bring the car to a stop until it was directly in front of the bank.
Myklebust suddenly found himself in a shootout with members of the brigade.
“I was lying behind the car and heard shots going over the top of the car,” Myklebust said. “All I remember is two shots going off.”
The officers on the scene were facing sniper fire and armed brigade members in the bank.
According to Myklebust, the shootout ended with one brigade member dead, one gave up, the sniper escaped, but was caught later and one was injured.
Quite an introduction to Tukwila.
Over the next decades Myklebust had many dicey encounters. He was shot at five time and was directly involved in about 20 armed robbery cases, including one in the late 1980s when he was chasing an armed robber near Interstate 5.
“I was on top of the hill and I told him to stop,” Myklebust said. “I started to shoot him and his hands went up.”
The man asked if he would have shot him.
Myklebust said he told the man, “Let’s put it this way, you had no slack left in the trigger when you put your hands up.”
Myklebust started the K-9 unit in Tukwila in 1980. His dog Kato, a German shepherd, became Tukwla’s first police dog and one of the first in the valley.
After decades of police work in Tukwila, Myklebust said he continues to be committed to the community and the challenges ahead for the city.
As revenues for cities continue to shrink, Myklebust said he sees services declining, including police and fire.
“I am concerned and I will continue to be involved,” Mylklebust said.
Take the cop off the line, but you can’t take the officer or community servant out of the man.