THE HISTORIAN SPOTLIGHT  |  "MARRIED NATIONAL ACADEMY GRADUATES"
ROY AND NOREEN SKAGEN
BY CINDY REED



The  first  two  women to  be  accepted  to  the  National  Academy  were  in  Session  #91  (1972).      It wasn’t  long  afterwards  that the  designation  of first  “married  National Academy  graduates”  was  achieved.    Jim Cotter,  former  Agent in Charge  of  the  National  Academy,  gave  that  designation  to  Seattle  Police Department’s  Roy  Skagen  #92  (1972)  and  Noreen Skagen  #96  (1974).   

Sadly, Noreen Skagen passed away on August 25th, 2017.  Information for this article came from phone conversations with Roy and news clippings he provided along with the memories of two of their children who were also in law enforcement.   

The story of their careers and marriage is interesting.   It was not a first marriage for either of them and both had children.  Their careers were notable individually and together they were a formidable couple.

Roy  served as a Marine  Corps officer (and attended officer training in Quantico) and  still  holds the  record  for the  shortest  time  rising through  the  ranks  of the  Seattle  Police  Department.   He  was  only  34  when he  became  the  assistant  chief of police  after  serving  as  Crimes Against Persons Division Major.    He  was  first  nominated to  attend  the  National  Academy  in 1969  when he  was  a  sergeant.   Unfortunately, it  was  a tumultuous time  in  SPD  history  with the  agency being  investigated  for corruption  by  the U.S.  Attorney.  There was a grand jury investigation and coincidental top to bottom organizational study by the IACP.   As a  matter  of policy,  the  Bureau  would  not  accept  candidates from  any  agency under  federal  investigation, so  his  attendance  was  put  on  hold  from 1969  until  1972.  Roy was put into critical positions within the agency and rose from sergeant  to  captain. He  was  accepted  for the  NA  in  1972,  which  was  still difficult for the  agency  because  he  was  relied  on  by  several  interim  police chiefs  to  command  the  Department’s most  complex  and  sensitive  operations  and  investigations.  His session (#92) was the first one in the newly constructed Quantico Academy, so he viewed it as a return to his Marine Corps alma mater.  Roy retired  in 1992 after 30 years with SPD and  continued to  be  a  strong  support  for his  wife  who  served in  several  different law  enforcement roles  as well as  volunteering  with  the  community.   

Noreen  was  a  sergeant  when she attended  the NA  in  1974  when  most  attendees  were  at  least lieutenants.   According to a comment made to Roy by Jim Cotter, her scores were not only the highest in her class, they were the highest he had ever seen.  Her journey into law enforcement was not as straightforward as Roy’s.   Noreen majored in journalism at the University of Washington.  She married and began her career as a writer.   Late  in the  1950’s  with her  marriage  failing  and  two  sons  to  support,  she  applied to  the  Seattle  Police Department,  primarily  because  of  the  salary  it  offered.  In those  early  years  her  title  was  policewoman, with  responsibilities  related  to  children at  risk  instead  of being  assigned to a  traditional patrol beat.   Throughout her  very  distinguished career,  she  managed  to  combine  her  deep compassion  with  a  tough  approach  to doing  the  right  thing, especially  as it  related  to  abused  youth.   It  wasn’t  uncommon  for Noreen  to  chase down runaway  teenagers in  dangerous  parts  of  town  where  police  were  not  welcome.  During Noreen’s career, she served in many roles.  Her  talents  with Seattle  PD  were  finally acknowledged and  rewarded with  her promotion  as  SPD’s  first  female Assistant Chief.  Her achievements came to the attention of President Ronald Reagan.  She  was nominated and  confirmed  in 1988 by  the  Senate  as  the  first  female  U.S. Marshal for Western Washington .  She served in that position for five years.   She  volunteered to  serve  on  the  Mill Creek  Police Advisory  Board and  in 2000 was  asked  to  act  as  the  interim  police  chief  for the  agency.  

 How did these two come together?  Roy  said  that  he  had  a  tough  time  getting  Noreen  to  agree  to  date him.   She was very strict about mixing the personal with the professional.   He  finally  used  a  ruse  to  get  her  to meet  him  for coffee  across  the street  from  the police  department.  At that time, he was a sergeant and Noreen was a detective.      Roy  had  been  attracted  by  the  same  quality  that everyone  else  had  noticed:   an  insistence  on  devoting  her  energies to  improving  other people’s  lives with little  concern  about  her  own advancement.   Noreen was a tough sell .  . . she was seven  years older  than  Roy and  thought  that would  be  a  problem.   Roy’s response was “When I am 80, what difference  will  it  make?”   Roy reflected on the sad irony that he was, in fact, 80  years old when  she died. 

Roy’s persistence was rewarded in 1969 when the two were married.   Although  both brought  children into  the  marriage,  it  was Noreen’s two sons,  Clark  and  Scott  Kimerer,  who  lived   with  them  and later  went  into  police  work.  The Skagens were happily married for 48 years.     They  were  proud  of their children’s  achievements  and  enjoyed the  blessings of  their  five  grandsons from the Kimerer side and 6 granddaughters on the Skagen side.

According  to  son  Clark,     “They  were  never  assigned  to  the  same  bureau  after  they  married.    The Department  was pretty  scrupulous about  not  assigning  personnel  who  were  married  –  or even  in relationships,  to  the  extent  they  were  acknowledged  or admitted  –  to  the  same  unit, section  or bureau.    When Mom and Roy were  simultaneously  Assistant  Chiefs, she  commanded the  Field  Support Bureau  and  he  commanded  the  Investigations Bureau.  From the time they married, Mom  was  in Operations, Crime  Prevention  and  Field  Support  for  almost  the  entire  time  that  Roy  was  in Investigations.    That institutional practice  may  have  eroded since  their  tenure, owing  to  union grievances and  constitutional challenges,  but  back  when Mom  and  Roy  were  married  they were  never  within  the  same  division  or chain  of command.”  Roy added this comment on the subject “We went to great lengths to keep our careers total separate.  We never had lunch or even a cup of coffee together when they were on duty.  If we both had to be at the same command staff meeting together while representing our respective commands, we could never seat ourselves on the same side of the conference table.  It made our professional lives work well.  We had no official photos taken of us together in uniform as it seemed to be the most prudent thing to do.”

When Roy  attended the NA in  1972, Clark  was  only  17  years  old  and  a  high  school  Junior.  Clark’s  memory  was that since  Noreen  had  raised  them  as  a  single parent  for  many  years, both boys  were  very  independent and  life didn’t  change  that  much.    Two  years  later  when  Noreen attended and  Roy  had  the responsibilities to  corral  the kids in her absence, Clark  had  already  left  for  college.   

Clark Kimerer retired in 2014 as the Assistant Chief of Seattle Police Department.   His  younger  brother, Scott Kimerer retired in 2017 from  the King  County  Sheriff’s Office  as the  Chief  of  the  contract  city  of Burien.  Scott  also  continued the  National Academy  tradition  set  by  Noreen and  Roy  by  attending  Session  232  in 2008.   Older  brother  Clark  was  on  the  list  to  attend  several  times,  but  had  assignments  involving incident  command  and  operational planning  that  conspired  to  thwart  being  able  to  attend.    Clark  was finally  able  to  attend  the National Executive  Institute  (NEI)  Session  27    in  2006  as  the first  Assistant  Chief from  a  department  other  than  New  York,  Chicago, LA  and  D.C. to  be  appointed.  At  least  he  could commiserate  with the  other NA graduates in his  family  on  the  size  of  the rooms  and  walking  through  the gerbil tubes.

Both  Skagens were  a presence  in many  community  activities  –  it  was  the consummate  “two for  one” if  either signed up  for a volunteer project.   One  of  Roy’s  favorite  experiences  was  when  Noreen became  involved in  judging several  Miss Washington pageants and even one Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.  She also served on the boards of Childhaven, Kid’s Place and the Boy Scouts of America.  

Noreen’s passing in 2017 left a huge gap in Roy’s life and he misses her terribly.  He consoles himself with the realization that her life was a blessing to so many.   

Roy  was  the  one  who suggested profiling the  historical information  of their  status as  the  “first couple” to  complete  the  National  Academy. 

Although many have now attained that status, Roy and Noreen remain as the trailblazers.

 

Cindy Reed
FBINAA Historian

Any suggestions about profiles, articles, local history, please contact me at Creed@fbinaa.org  or CindyR45@comcast.net  

 

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