Former Deputy Chief of the Bellevue Police Department Harold Francis “Cork” Corkrey Jr. died on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24. He was 87 years old.
Corkrey was born in Seattle on August 20, 1929 and was raised in Bellevue on Lake Washington Boulevard Northeast. He was one of the first officers hired for the Bellevue Police Department and was the department’s first motorcycle officer.
“On behalf of the entire Bellevue Police Department, I would like to recognize Harold Corkery for his 26 years of dedicated service to the young city of Bellevue. Harold’s values of attention to detail, a strong moral compass, and dedication to his job continue to be qualities we seek in our new officers to this day,” Chief Steve Mylett said of Corkrey’s death.
After attending the University of Washington and Seattle University, Corkrey entered the U.S. Coast Guard in 1950, according to city records. He served in the South Pacific until 1953.
Corkrey joined the department in 1954. Aside from a brief departure the following year, worked for the department until his retirement in the early 80s.
“He had a lasting impact in BPD’s emphasis in motorcycle enforcement and excellence in traffic enforcement and accident investigation. Our amazingly low traffic fatality rate is, in part, a legacy of what he started back in the 50s,” said police veteran Michael Chiu.
Former Police Chief Don Van Blaricom first met Corkrey in December 1956 when the latter asked to borrow a nickel for a coke. “Cork”, as Van Blaricom called him, was a big part of the early days of the department.
“I remember that when I rode with him during my so-called ‘field training,’ [Corkrey] showed me the location of every safe and water fountain in what was a very small patrol area… the safes were to be checked by spotlight for security and he chewed Copenhagen requiring frequent water — I am sure that some of the [police department] retirees can remember being sent to Al Johnson’s grocery store on Main Street to renew his supply,” Van Blaricom said in an email.
Corkrey also helped mold the police department when he joined Van Blaricom and three others in filing a complaint against the department’s first police chief, Gerald Plowman, on corruption charges.
Members of the Corkrey family did not respond to requests for comment by press time. The family will reportedly not be holding funeral or memorial services.