Updated April 10 with additional details on expenses for the search firm.
Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson announced Thursday that Acting Edmonds Police Chief Jim Lawless will be the city’s next permanent police chief, pending city council confirmation.
“One measure of a person’s worth is how they perform during a crisis,” Nelson said. “This has been a crisis like no other. 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.”
Lawless was appointed acting chief after longtime Edmonds Chief Al Compaan retired at the end of December 2019. After new Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson took office in January, he indicated his intent to perform a national search for a new chief.
The city council on Feb. 18 was briefed on Nelson’s decision to retain a national search firm — California-based Public Sector Search & Consulting (PSS&C) — to look for a police chief, at a base cost of $22,500 plus up to $6,000 for expenses.
City of Edmonds spokeswoman Jamie Holter said the city paid a $5,625 fee to initiate the contract, which covered initial work. The mayor also asked Acting Chief Lawless to apply for the job. “We put the process on hold early March when the pandemic became our priority,” Holter said. “Now that we have chosen our police chief, we have terminated the contract and are working on the details to close it out.”
Lawless has served as Edmonds PD’s assistant chief since 2008 and the acting chief of police since Jan. 1. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois and a bachelor of arts degree with concentrations in sociology, psychology and criminal justice from Washington State University.
He is a 2009 graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session 236, as well as a 2013 graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar. Also. in 2013, Lawless was named the department’s 2013 Officer of the Year, as selected by his fellow officers
“It is my honor and privilege to have this amazing opportunity to lead the fine men and women of the Edmonds Police Department,” Lawless said. “I am very appreciative of the confidence and support of the mayor in appointing me to this position. I am also extremely thankful for the confidence and support of the city council, the members of the department and the public.”
Prior to becoming acting chief, Lawless had worked as the assistant chief for field services (Patrol) and, until recently, served as the commander of the North Sound Metro SWAT Team, comprised of officers from 10 jurisdictions, serving a population of over 360,000.
Lawless began his law enforcement career in 1987 with the Key West, Fla. Police Department. In May 1995, he relocated to Edmonds, where he began his career with Edmonds PD. In January 2002, he was promoted to the rank of corporal and in May of the same year he was promoted to sergeant, supervising various patrol squads. He has also served as a department instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Academy.
“I am delighted that Acting Chief Lawless has agreed to continue his career in the service of the Edmonds Police Department and all our residents,” Nelson added.