Gateway: News

At 87, Gig Harbor’s police ‘mom’ will work her last shift with her boys and girls in blue

The cops call her “Mom.”

After 29 years with the Gig Harbor Police Department, police service specialist Marline McClane will retire on Nov. 1 — at the age of 87.

A great-great-grandmother who raised five boys, for nearly three decades she’s also been a mother to an extended family of men and women in blue.

“I’ve called her Mom for 22 years now, since my first day,” said Lieutenant Fred Douglas. “She has made sure I’ve been okay as my career has grown up here.”

As a police services specialist McClane takes phone messages, takes care of complaints, works on all sorts of reports, takes concealed pistol requests, along with many other duties. A binder with four to five inches of job description, to be exact.

“I have always liked the job,” McClane said. “The only reason I’ve finally decided to retire is because my body doesn’t want to do it anymore; otherwise I would probably be here until I was 100 years old.”

McClane has worked in the Gig Harbor Civic Center longer than any other employee, beating Police Chief Kelly Busey by one year. She is already on the schedule to come back and volunteer.

Busey said his younger officers could take notes on her McClane’s ethic.

“She has kept up technologically very well,” Busey said. “She has been through four to five to records management systems, so she can adapt fairly easily.”

McClane said the only technology she resisted was the new digital fingerprint system, but luckily the new person taking her place knows how to use it.

“I complain a lot about the new technology, but I get there,” laughed McClane.

Marline McClane is retiring after nearly 29 years at the Gig Harbor Police Department. The chief says she’s outlived four or five computer systems. Joshua Bessex

Rode horse to school

McClane grew up in Nebraska, riding a horse three miles to school every day. Her home had an outhouse and no electricity.

“It was stocked up with ice and that’s how we kept things cool every year,” she said.

She later moved to Fircrest, where she resides to this day. She has lived there for 50 years and raised her five children in that Tacoma suburb.

McClane became a police services specialist at the Gig Harbor Police Department in 1990.

She has worked besides Debra Yerry for the last 17 years, and said Yerry is the best partner she has ever had.

“I think she is amazing, I am going to cry,” said Yerry emotionally. “We are really going to miss her. It is just finally starting to hit.”

Yerry described their relationship as like “peanut butter and jelly.”

Once, she recalled, she was helping a resident at the police department window, and McClane had her back turned, but was listening intently. Yerry turned around to get paperwork the person needed, only to find McClane already holding it out to her.

A detective watching the moment exclaimed, “ I am just amazed. Watching the two of you, It is like you guys are reading each other’s minds.”

A photograph hanging on the wall of the Gig Harbor police station shows Marline McClane with the department’s officers. Joshua Bessex

Putting out fires

Their duties are various, filling that 5-inch binder. McClane ticks off a few of them.

“We take phone messages, take care of the complaint requests at the window, we work the reports from the day and night before that go to prosecutors, courts or into the files, we process citations, we take in protection orders to see to it they get served,” she recited.

They also serve as a buffer between officers and the public, she said.

“We put out a lot of fires. People call in with requests that are not really police-related. We save the guys a lot of unnecessary phone calls.”

McClane’s supervisor, Lieutenant Douglas, said the only “supervision” he needs to do is tell her to go home when she works past quitting time.

He said that her mind is still at 100 percent and hopes she comes back to volunteer and visit as much as possible.

Chief Busey said there will be an obvious void once McClane retires, as no one has worked at the police department without her around. Busey said he and McClane already have a date to eat at the Space Needle on her next birthday.

“Now it’s time to clean up the files and let someone else do it,” McClane said. “But I will be the biggest pest you’ll ever see. I’m coming back here all the time.”