New deputy chief works to overcome challenges

Posted 8/23/23

Amid the golf course buzz at last month’s city council meeting, another key moment occurred: Deputy Chief Jeff Thaxton was sworn in to the Port Townsend Police Department on July 17.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

New deputy chief works to overcome challenges


Amid the golf course buzz at last month’s city council meeting, another key moment occurred: Deputy Chief Jeff Thaxton was sworn in to the Port Townsend Police Department on July 17.

Born and raised in Texas, he spent over two decades self-employed in various career paths before making the switch to law enforcement.

“At age 23, I started with buying a gym,” Thaxton said.

“I sold the gym, then owned a construction company, then a home flipping business, then a ranch investment company.”

He transitioned careers when the real estate market collapsed and production builders were edging out custom builders.

“My dad was a police officer in Dallas when I was growing up, so it always had an appeal to me, even when I was a kid,” he explained.

“I felt I had the right temperament and physical ability for the job.”

Throughout this time, Thaxton was heavily involved in music.

“I’ve played in rock bands since my teens,” he said.

He took lessons from bassist “Dimebag” Darrell of Pantera when they both were around 19 years old.

“He beat me in a guitar contest — I placed second to him,” Thaxton recalled.

“But I won first next year when he was one of the judges.”

His first band, Mars Hill, was signed to Midwest Records in the late 1990s. THAXTON was formed in 2005. They had four record contract offers, airplay on several radio stations, and performance opportunities throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

“Our attorney was confident we could land a record deal with a major label and advised us to hold off on the current offers,” Thaxton explained.

Meanwhile, the band Velvet Revolver (a collaboration between Guns and Roses’ band and the Stone Temple Pilots’ singer) sent him two tracks to write lyrics, melodies, sing, record, and send back to them. However, the band broke up shortly after.

When THAXTON’s attorney passed away, everything truly fell apart.

“Our music is still on iTunes, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, etc.,” Thaxton assured.

Thaxton moved to Sequim in 2015.

“I was tired of the heat in Texas, and I’m always up for adventure,” he said.

He recalled filling out online questionnaires á la “find your spot” and it would always say Washington. “I vacationed here in June, came back in August to interview for jobs, then moved here in September. It was very quick and kind of crazy when I look back on it, but it all fell into place,” he said.

Thaxton worked as a sergeant for the Sequim Police Department before joining the Port Townsend force. “This is the job that almost didn’t happen,” he explained.

“My former boss told me he felt I had more to contribute to law enforcement. He encouraged me to apply for the Deputy Chief position in Port Townsend when it came open.”

Then tragedy struck.

“In January, I was diagnosed with cancer,” Thaxton said.

He decided not to apply for the job.

“I needed to focus on the battle I was about to face,” he said.

A month passed, but both his former boss and PTPD Chief Thomas Olson still encouraged him to apply. He decided to meet Olson in person.

“I liked what he was doing with the department,” Thaxton said. “He again asked me to apply.”

This time, he decided to go for it.

He began the rigorous interview process, but almost withdrew when his health took a turn for the worse.

“The final interview was only four days after my radiation and chemo therapy ended,” he said.

“I was in a lot of pain. My energy was zapped.”

The interview day took a toll on him; it lasted five hours, with three panels interviewing about an hour each.

“I took a nap between each interview and just did the best I could. Two days later, I was admitted to the hospital for four days,” he said.

Olson met with Thaxton once he was released from the hospital and offered him the job.

My goal [at the PTPD] is to look for and connect inefficiencies in the agency while improving the quality of life for our officers,” he said.

“I’m also a strong believer in community oriented policing, which is partnering with the community. Citizens want a true partnership, not their police department to be an occupying force.”