Share story

Neil Moloney, who held top positions at the Washington State Patrol, the Seattle Police Department and Port of Seattle Police Department, is being remembered as an innovator who believed in public accountability.

Chief Moloney, 87, who lived in Kent, died Sept. 25 of natural causes, the three law-enforcement agencies announced in a joint statement.

During his lengthy law-enforcement career, Chief Moloney served as chief of the State Patrol from 1981 to 1985. He was chosen by then-Gov. John Spellman for the job.

“Chief Moloney brought us a concept of public accountability that continues today, in the form of our Office of Professional Standards,” State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “He was also known as simply a gentleman, quiet and polite to all he met.”

Chief Moloney also helped establish the Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation.

The foundation provides financial assistance to State Patrol employees who become disabled in the line of duty, to surviving spouses and children of fallen officers and employees who die in the line of duty, and for the families of employees affected by catastrophic injury or illness. It also has an education-scholarship program for employees or dependent children.

Neil William Moloney was born on March 10, 1927, in Easton, Saskatchewan, Canada. His family moved in 1939 to Enumclaw and then in 1941 to Auburn, where he attended school.

During World War II, Chief Moloney served in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 and 1945 in the South Pacific.

After the war, he finished high school in Seattle and earned degrees from the State College of Washington, now Washington State University, the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound.

Chief Moloney initially started working in law enforcement for the State Patrol in Pullman, said a daughter, Heidi Riedeman, 52, of Kent.

Chief Moloney joined the Seattle Police Department in 1954, retiring in 1975 at the rank of assistant chief.

“I was saddened to hear that retired Chief Neil Moloney passed away last week,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a statement.

“Chief Moloney was a great leader who provided a tremendous public service to Seattle and the state. He will be missed.”

From 1975 to 1981, Chief Moloney headed the Port of Seattle Police Department, serving as its first chief as the department moved from a security-guard force to a professional police agency.

“Chief Moloney helped create the Port of Seattle Police Department and provided exacting expert leadership to our initial development as a police agency,” Port Police Chief Colleen Wilson said in a statement. “All these years later, I have found documents from Chief Moloney that provided clear professional guidelines and are still relevant today.”

His next assignment was the State Patrol. After leaving there, he spent two years as a director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

On leaving that position, Chief Moloney worked as a police consultant and wrote and published three novels and one nonfiction book he conceded were not best-sellers.

In keeping with the “true style” of an author and a man who liked to plan ahead, Chief Moloney drafted his own obituary, according to his family.

“He was quite the historian,” Riedeman said, with a focus on his family, heritage and U.S. history.

His main hobby, she said, was his family.

“He was very well known because of his profession, but to us he was just dad,” Riedeman said.

Chief Moloney is survived by his high-school sweetheart and wife of 60 years, Delaine; four other children, Jay, Tim, Traci and Julie, all residing in South King County and Pierce County; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Jay Moloney is a deputy in the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church in Renton, 13055 S.E. 192nd St. Honor guards for the State Patrol, Seattle Police Department and Port of Seattle Police Department will attend.

In lieu of flowers, Chief Moloney’s family asks people to consider donations to any Catholic charity or law-enforcement charity, JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) or the ALS Association Evergreen Chapter.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or