Ready for challenges of job in changing political times
By Ann McCreary
Winthrop’s new marshal, decorated Washington State Patrol trooper Daniel Tindall, has owned property in the Methow Valley for more than two decades, and says he is now looking forward to making it his permanent home.
“I love the valley,” Tindall said in an interview last Thursday (Aug. 17), his second day on the job. “I’m very excited for the challenges.”
Those challenges will include providing some needed stability to the marshal’s position, which was empty for six months following the controversial firing of former Marshal Hal Henning, who had served just eight months before losing the trust of then-Mayor Anne Acheson. Henning’s firing, which remains the subject of a legal challenge, came after the previous acting marshal and marshal served five and 14 months respectively.
That makes Tindall the third marshal in Winthrop in just over two years, and one who takes the position at a time of significant turnover in town government. Every seat on the town council is on the November ballot, either because a term has expired or to fill an unexpired term. Only Ben Nelson and Joseph O’Driscoll, both appointed to vacant seats this year, are seeking to stay on the job.
And Tindall was hired by Mayor Rick Northcott, a 12-year veteran of the council who was appointed mayor when Acheson resigned, who has said he will not seek election in November. Council member Bob DeHart and town resident Sally Ranzau are running for mayor.
Tindall, who has been awarded the state patrol’s top commendation for service on duty, also takes on the marshal’s badge with an asterisk on his own record. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge in a case involving attempted arson charges against his teenage son.
In the interview last week, Tindall said he was looking forward to the challenges of becoming marshal, and is aware of the unique demands of his new job. Working as the police chief in a small town “is a lot about building relationships and finding out what issues the members of the community and the business owners see as priorities,” he said.
Tindall received a round of applause from community members when he was introduced at the Winthrop Town Council meeting last Wednesday (Aug. 16). During the meeting, one resident told the council that she was concerned about motorists speeding on Castle Avenue.
“So, I’ve driven through there a few times today,” Tindall said in the interview the next day. He said he plans to spend time walking through the town, talking with residents and visitors.
It can be difficult to hire and retain officers in small police departments, Tindall said. That has certainly been true in Winthrop, a town of 400, which had contracted with Twisp for police protection since May.
Several people applied for the opening of marshal during this last round and two applicants underwent oral exams, according to the mayor’s office. The town’s Civil Service Commission recommended only Tindall for further consideration.
Small town policing, Tindall said, “often is a training ground, or for a young officer it’s too slow.” But after a career of service at the state level, he said “I’m not looking to be going anywhere else.”
Tindall, a native of Idaho, was married at Sun Mountain in 1993 and two years later bought property near Mazama. He lived there from 1995 to 2002 when he was assigned as a state trooper to Okanogan County, and kept his property when he was posted to other parts of the state.
Tindall’s 25 years with the state patrol included more than 12 years on the executive protection unit, where he provided security for the three most recent Washington governors — Gary Locke, Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee.
After retiring from the patrol in August 2015, Tindall worked for a private security firm that contracted uniformed, armed security officers to retail businesses.
Tindall, 53, has a home in Steilacoom, near Tacoma, with his wife and three children, who range in age from 17 to 20. His wife, who grew up near Brewster, is a flight attendant based out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and will commute from the Methow Valley to her work. Tindall said his two oldest children will continue to live in the Steilacoom area, and his youngest will move here.
Since beginning work as marshal, Tindall is living at his property near Weeman Bridge between Winthrop and Mazama. His home there was badly damaged by a water leak last winter, and he has plans to rebuild.
Award of Honor
Tindall is only one of 11 Washington troopers awarded the Award of Honor, the state patrol’s highest recognition for an outstanding act of valor.
In June 1993, when Tindall was assigned to patrol on Seattle area freeways, he responded to rush-hour call about a man who had shot at a state Department of Transportation worker on the Evergreen Point floating bridge. The armed man was standing on the highway bridge, threatening to shoot motorists.
When Tindall arrived with lights and sirens, the man got into his van, which was parked nearby on the side of the bridge. Tindall ordered the man several times to drop his weapon and come out of the van. The man eventually came out, brandishing his weapon. Tindall fired and wounded the man, who later died from his injuries.
In the interview last week, Tindall discussed a widely reported 2015 case that involved his son and resulted in his own plea of guilty to a misdemeanor.
The incident involved allegations that his son, then 18, attempted to set fire to a car by putting material in the opening of the gas tank and lighting it. The car belonged to the family of a girl who attended his son’s school, Tindall said. He said his son and a friend had “romantic ideas” about the girl which resulted in some conflict.
The arson attempt was not successful, but a surveillance camera caught an image of a person wearing a ski mask putting something in the gas tank. Tindall said his son and the friend had similar physical builds and the video was poor quality, and the image could have been of either boy.
Tindall said his son eventually claimed responsibility, but may have been trying to protect his friend. “I couldn’t tell if my son and his friend were being honest with me,” he said last week.
Clothing at Tindall’s homes in the Methow Valley and Steilacoom was taken as part of the investigation. Tindall and his wife were subsequently charged with tampering with evidence and rendering criminal assistance.
“The worst thing I did was drive my family to our home. Whether my son brought clothing here, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s my understanding that none of the clothing articles taken from either of my residences was tied in any way to a crime.”
After almost a year of legal proceedings, Tindall pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of rendering criminal assistance. As part of the plea agreement, his son’s case was moved from Thurston County Superior Court to Mental Health Court. His son was sentenced to a two-year community-based program of supervision and treatment in lieu of a felony conviction and incarceration.
“My wife and I agreed to the plea deal on the advice of our attorneys … we were out of funds to take it to trial and we wanted to give our son a chance to get counseling and not be a felon,” Tindall said. “I was tired of having this cloud hanging over us. It was a nightmare for our family.”
Mayor Rick Northcott said he was aware of Tindall’s past legal issues. Northcott said he checked with many people in law enforcement and criminal justice who knew Tindall, and who said the former trooper was widely respected for his character and professionalism. Northcott also said he questioned Tindall in depth before offering him the marshal position, which pays $63,000 a year.
“It’s been an intensive process,” Tindall said last week.
As the new marshal, Tindall said one of his first priorities is to fill the deputy marshal position that is provided in the town budget. “Several people have contacted me about working for the department,” he said.