Edmonds Police chief hire: What changed? | Letter to the Editor


Last updated 12/4/2020 at 1:34pm

What changed between April 9 and yesterday (Dec. 3)?

The April 9 official press release from Mayor Mike Nelson's office naming Acting Chief Jim Lawless as permanent police chief said, "Acting Chief Lawless has been a steady, firm hand during a time of uncertainty. I can't imagine a person better suited for this job than Jim."

On Thursday, the official statement from Mayor Nelson's office notified the community of a different nominee for police chief. The release said this new nominee was "the best person for the task" and Jim Lawless was thanked by Mayor Nelson for his service to the community.

So, what changed?

No adequate explanation has been provided. Worse yet, this is an egregious breach of trust between the mayor and Acting Chief Lawless – a major breach of trust with each and every member of the Edmonds Police Department, and a disappointing breach of trust with our community.

Acting Chief Lawless is a highly trained, professional law enforcement executive. He knows the agency; he knows the city, its residents, and the changing environment of public safety, serving our community for more than 25 years.

He has led with aplomb during this unprecedented COVID pandemic. Notably, he has been an integral part of recruitment and hiring decisions that led to enhancing the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of the department.

His hiring decisions this year have continued on the diversity path. There is no question that he is the right person to continue to lead the agency during these changing times.

What to do now?

The Edmonds City Council must vote to NOT confirm the nominee announced yesterday. Council must not be complicit with this breach of trust with our community. There is an opportunity to cure this misstep.

A NO vote by council is an opportunity for the city to begin repairing the breach of trust that has been created. Better yet, Mayor Nelson should immediately withdraw the nominee announced yesterday.

Acting Chief Lawless should again be submitted as Mayor Nelson's police chief nominee, and council should confirm.

Al Compaan
Edmonds Chief of Police (retired)


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