Letter to the editor: Private search not needed for new police chief

Editor:
I am asking the City of Edmonds to abandon the idea of using a private search firm for the new police chief and promote from within for several reasons.
First, the Edmonds Police Department has a history of promoting from within. Several chiefs, not all, have been promoted from within. Officers are afforded upward mobility opportunities to move up the ladder and someday hopefully become chief if so desired. A positive culture, chemistry and dedication to public service is lived and reinforced every day in the department. Officers are quickly available, professional and responsive. I know because I have called them several times for issues. If you call them with a question or need they will respond to you. Not all police departments operate at this high level of service, response and dedication. A clear and present danger exists to possibly disrupt this positive chemistry by going outside the department needlessly when an extremely qualified candidate is in position ready to accept the job.
 Assistant Chief Jim Lawless has been with the Edmonds Police Department 25 years. He is already a member of the community and familiar with the department daily operations, officers, and how the community and department interact. He knows Edmonds and us. This is a big deal and he can hit the ground running.
Lastly, please do not spend $30,000-$40,000 of taxpayer dollars for a search outside the department when promoting from within is clearly warranted here.
Thank you,
Mike Murdock
Edmonds

15 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Private search not needed for new police chief”

  1. Extremely well said, Mike. Your comments are all pertinent, very valid, and broadly supported throughout our city.

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  2. The idea of paying to recruit a qualified Chief of Police is utter nonsense and a waste of money

    . We have very qualified officers within. If our current officers are not qualified why are they even working in our city . Promoting within is a logical conclusion. Who knows our city better!

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  3. I totally agree with these two gentlemen. If you have a man in place who is doing the job with little or no obvious complaints or problems with his work, why would you spend money to find someone else who may or may not be a good fit in the end? This consultant nonsense (on virtually every move we make) has gotten out of hand.

    What we should spend a little money on is looking at outsourcing the police department as we have done with the fire department, where we have supposedly saved at least a couple million dollars. If a similar savings could be achieved by outsourcing the police function, maybe we should at least consider it. Not much would really change except economy of scale in equipment purchases and the elimination of the two most expensive positions, Chief and Asst. Chief. The downside, of course, is that our chief executive (Mayor) would lose some or most control over the hiring and firing of personnel which is a legitimate consideration for sure.

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  4. Well said, Mike! I totally agree with you. We do not need the city frivolously spending our money when our acting Chief is highly qualified and ready to become the permanent Chief.

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  5. Hopefully, the City Council and Mayor will give these ‘well said’ words by Mike Murdock full consideration. We all do not experience it everyday, but our men and women on the Edmonds Police force are second to none. Surely, we can find one to lead our men and women as well as our Ex-Chief, Al Compaan.

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  6. The selection of a Police Chief from within the ranks provides an incentive for every officer on the force. By going outside the city for a selection shuts the door for many qualified individuals. One only needs to review the past actions of mayors. The city was fortunate to have many chiefs who were selected by the mayor from within the department; a few that come to mind are Grimstad, Foster, Hickok, & Prinz. As witnessed by many, the outside “head hunter companies” who substitute their actions for the mayor’s responsibility do not have the history, pulse, and identification with our community. They perform their role and leave town. Promoting from within makes sense.

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  7. I have a different opinion. The hiring and supervision of city department heads are arguably the most important responsibilities of any mayor. If our brand new mayor wants to do a search for the best possible candidate for chief of police, we should let him do that.

    Mayor Nelson has promised “an inclusive and transparent search process that considers the very best internal and external candidates.” If Acting Chief Lawless comes out on top of such a search (as I expect he will), his stature will be enhanced by having prevailed in a competitive process. And Mayor Nelson will have more confidence knowing is found the best possible person for the job.

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    1. Jim Lawless has served our community and the Edmonds Police Department well for many years as an officer and Assistant Police Chief. The saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is applicable here. He knows the department, its employees and officer well. He is a proven leader and would be an excellent Chief of Police. I hope our new Mayor gives him full and fair consideration. His selection would send the positive message to the department that loyalty and service will be rewarded.

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  8. So the question is what criteria would make an exterior hire superior to an in house hire to justify the expense of the head hunter? Advanced college degree in police science; years on the job as chief; same political views as Mayor? How ’bout the Mayor live with what he’s got and save us tax payer peons a little cash. The Mayor and chief don’t need to be joined at the hip to make our town successful.

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  9. I am urging all council members to oppose the hiring of a recruiting firm to assist with the hiring of a police chief. Jim Lawless is a fully qualified replacement for Al Compaan. There therefore is no need to incur this expense, which will not be insignificant, and there is no need to utilize the time of staff and elected officials to come up with another candidate.

    Additionally, we have a Police Department that has broad support and respect from our community – so we do not need a new leader to overhaul it. I believe that one section of the department that could be improved is traffic enforcement. Give Jim more funding and that can be taken care of.

    If Jim is not given the chief’s position it will very likely result in a demoralized department and some staff departures – somethings we obviously do not need.

    Ron Wambolt

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    1. Well said Mr. Wambolt. I totally agree with you on this issue and likewise urge the council to vote down any spending on consultants here. It simply isn’t necessary, nor in the city or the Mayor’s own self interest. I personally very much like the Mayor and think he means well but should rethink this for the greater good, as he so wisely did on the Connector.

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      1. I agree that the monetary expenditure for a Police Chief is an unnecessary use of our City budget. When we have a qualified and respected officer ready to assume command, a national search seems like a vanity project to showcase how desirable we are to potential candidates across the country. I assert our pride can be better demonstrated by the quality of our interior candidates and our support of them. This would also serve to boost the morale of our rank and file as we demonstrate our confidence in their work.
        I urge we allocate our monies to necessary causes and a search for a qualified Police Chief isn’t one.

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