Firm retained for police chief search to present at Feb. 18 Edmonds City Council meeting

Among the items on a full Edmonds City Council agenda Tuesday, Feb. 18 include a presentation from a search firm that Edmond Mayor Mike Nelson has retained for the “anticipated recruiting process” for a permanent police chief.

The police chief position is currently held by Jim Lawless, a long-time Edmonds PD assistant chief who was promoted to acting chief following the retirement of Chief Al Compaan in late 2019.

Nelson issued a news release Jan. 17 stating his intentions to hire “a reputable recruitment firm” to lead a search process for a new police chief. In the release, Nelson said he would seek budget authorization from the city council to hire the firm. The cost for the search was not included in the agenda memo posted on the city’s website, but the firm was identified as Public Sector Search & Consulting, Inc.

According to the company’s website, the firm specializes in executive searches for chiefs of police and other public safety professionals.

Company founder Gary Peterson “has developed strong relationships with hundreds of police leaders throughout the nation,” the website says, and the firm “is sensitive to contemporary community expectations for chief of police searches. We address issues of inclusion, transparency, and community trust-building in our process. The firm is committed to a search and selection process that produces 21st-century police leaders who can manage and lead change.”

The council agenda also includes two public hearings — one on an ordinance amending the city’s development code regarding the unit lot subdivision application procedure, and the other on an ordinance amending the code to add “Hotel” as a permitted use in the commercial waterfront zone.

Other items on the agenda include:

– A proclamation for Joe Dwyer’s 100th birthday.

– Administration of oath of office for newly-promoted police Sgt. Ken Crystal.

– Annual reports from the city hearing examiner and prosecutor’s office.

– A proposal to include during each council meeting at least one “study item” topic, meant for discussion purposes and not for deliberation or voting.

The business meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N., Edmonds. Prior to that meeting, the council will meet in executive session at 6 p.m. to discuss collective bargaining strategy.

You can see the complete business meeting agenda here.


9 Replies to “Firm retained for police chief search to present at Feb. 18 Edmonds City Council meeting”

  1. I certainly feel this use of funds is unnecessary! Edmonds seems to outsource many items on their agendas. Why?

    We must have qualified candidates within our present Police Department.


  2. I am urging all councilmembers 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 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 – and it could cause Jim Lawless to leave for an opportunity in an other municipality..


  3. Concur with Wambolt…

    The Edmonds City Council seems to have an affinity for spending tax payer dollars on outside groups to perform tasks that can as easily be done internally at a fraction of the cost of the outside groups.

    And maybe with the savings, a few potholes can be filled!


  4. Well said, Ron Wamboldt! The article states there will be a presentation by the firm Mike Nelson has retained. So, in reading this article, I see that the mayor already hired this firm and is now going to the city council to get the budget allocated for the firm to start a search. I hope the city council members have the courage to stand up to the mayor. Barely in the office and he has already put forth a money wasting project.


  5. I agree with Mr. Wambolt. Furthermore, let’s reward our fine officers by showing them our respect and support when advancement opportunities become available. Outside recruitment is an asset when needed. When not needed, as in this case, it is waste of our dollars. Please do not allot money for this unnecessary expenditure.
    Thank you.


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