Bret Farrar, Lakewood police chief when 4 officers were killed, dies of cancer at 59

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – The Lakewood community is mourning the loss of beloved former Police Chief Bret Farrar, who died in his Arizona home Tuesday night surrounded by friends and family. He was 59.

Farrar had been battling cancer.

“He was one of those people, when you meet him, you think you’ve known him forever,” says Helen McGovern Pilant, executive director of Emergency Food Network.

Farrar began his career as a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy in 1988 and joined the Lakewood force in 2004. He became chief just four years later.

And the very next year, Farrar led his officers and the community through tragedy after four Lakewood police officers were shot and killed by Maurice Clemmons in a Parkland coffee shop on November 29, 2009.  Farrar made it his mission to never let the community forget the fallen four, or their service and sacrifice, launching The Fallen Officer’s Food Drive for the Emergency Food Network in 2010.

And he was outside the Lakewood Police Department every November 29, collecting food to feed the hungry.

Farrar retired following his first bladder-cancer diagnosis in 2015. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time, and both went into remission. Farrar’s, however, reappeared.

“As much as Bret meant to the Police Department and the City of Lakewood it pales in comparison to what he meant to his family,” said Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro. “They were extremely close and I can’t imagine the loss they are feeling.”

Farrar is survived by his wife and daughter who reside in Arizona.


The wife of one of the four officers slain in Parkland in 2009, Kim Renninger, posted a tribute on Facebook on Wednesday.

“He was the perfect man during the worst of times,” she wrote. “He might of been Mark's boss but he was much more than that. I'll miss my friend.”

Q13 News anchor David Rose said he considered Farrar a friend and mentor.

“The Chief, as I always called him, started the Fallen Officer's Food Drive for the Emergency Food Network in 2010 to thank the community for all the support they showed his department,” Rose said. “He was out there in front of the Lakewood PD every Nov. 29, rain or shine or cold, collecting food to feed the hungry.”

Farrar also served with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and appeared on an episode of COPS."

“Bret’s commitment to the community went above and beyond his role as Police Chief,” Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield said. “He cared about our community as demonstrated by his commitment to countless charities and service groups in Lakewood.”