Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan announces retirement

Police Chief Al Compaan

After more than 40 years with the Edmonds Police Department, Chief Al Compaan has announced he will retire at the end of December.

“The stated values of the Edmonds Police Departments are service, integrity, respect and stewardship, and Al Compaan has perfectly personified those values during his many years of service to our community,” said Mayor Dave Earling. “We are deeply grateful for his service and we wish him and his family all the happiness in the world during his well-earned retirement.”

Compaan was hired by the Edmonds Police Department in 1978. During his more than 40 years with EPD, he served as a patrol officer, detective, corporal, sergeant, and assistant chief, before then being named acting chief in April 2007, and receiving permanent appointment in October 2007. Compaan is also an active member of the Snohomish County Sheriff and Police Chiefs Association, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

A city announcement notes that Compaan has made hiring decisions covering over 60% of EPD’s combined commissioned and support staff, and has overseen the diversification of the department in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. The vast majority of those EPD staff in leadership positions were directly promoted by Compaan, the announcement added.

“The hiring and promotions are, without a doubt, what make me most proud, along with having the privilege to leave a legacy for the future, knowing the department is in excellent hands,” Compaan said.

Earling and Mayor-Elect Mike Nelson have agreed that Assistant Chief Jim Lawless will serve as acting chief upon Compaan’s retirement, leading the department into 2020. The city says that “a celebratory get-together” will be held for Chief Compaan at a date and time to be determined in the New Year.

Among the highlights of Compaan’s local and regional accomplishments:

  • Directly involved with the planning and the 2018 consolidation of 911 centers in Snohomish County, as well as the merger of the county-wide first responder radio system into the 911 center.
  • Established a contract with the Town of Woodway for policing services.
  • Facilitated the city’s membership with Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, and serving on the DEM Advisory Board.
  • Helped facilitate a shared police department social worker with the City of Lynnwood, as well as involving the Verdant Health Commission with longer-term case management for those in need of services as an alternative to incarceration or relying on the emergency departments of local hospitals.
  • Serving as a member of the executive boards overseeing shared services such as North Sound Metro SWAT, Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force, and Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team.
  • Serving as ex-officio member of Edmonds Police Foundation.

Compaan added that he is extremely appreciative of the support received from the Edmonds community. “Support is not a given. We’ve got to earn it each and every day. And on those occasions when we have a misstep, we’ve got to own it.” He said he will not miss “the phone calls in the middle of the night that never are a call just to say hi.” But he added that what he will greatly miss are “the people, both in the agency and in the community, who have been such a tremendous part of my life.”


6 Replies to “Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan announces retirement”

  1. I knew it was coming, and I’m very sad to see the Chief leaving, but it’s a well deserved retirement. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Edmonds, and he’s always had an open door policy for me to approach him on any and all things. I’m happy to call him a friend.


  2. Al leaves a big hole within our city on his retirement. His professionalism, dedication, and personal embodiment of the ‘spirit of Edmonds’ will continue to serve us well in the future. His mentoring and development of highest quality personnel within the EPD have been unwavering during his leadership tenure. I am sure that I am not alone in expressing heartfelt appreciation, thanks, and good luck to Al in his retirement. AND. we hope to continue seeing him around town!


  3. Well he’s one I’ve never been pulled over by . I wonder if he remembers officer Zell ? That guy got angry at me.

    Congratulations on your retirement. Welcome to the club.


  4. Al was, and is, first and foremost, a role-model that we can all look to for guidance in how to live our lives. He is just a great guy and has served our city with the highest honor possible. Thank you for your service!


  5. Al has been a model of a policeman and Chief. More than that he is a gentleman; there aren’t as many around in public service any more.
    Phil and Dorothy Sacks


  6. Chief Compaan is an up from the ranks Chief who has always served Edmonds with the highest degree of professionalism and compassion. He became Chief at a difficult time following the unexpected death of Chief Stern. His leadership skills became evident at that time when he helped lead the memorial services for Chief Stern and rallied the Police Department. Since then he has continued to lead a highly respected department. I have know and worked with every Edmonds Police Chief since Marlo Foster. All were good but, none were better than Chief Compaan. We were fortunate to have had him and he will be missed. Here’s hoping for a long and happy retirement with lot’s of travel adventures, good food and great music.


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