The position of chief of police is critical to the city. Our community is most fortunate to be an active, caring community, one that strives to appreciate our culture and public safety for those who live, work, and visit us. Our police department needs to reflect high moral values, empirical driven standards, and work as guardians of the community for everyone.
In this time of crisis, it has been stressful and brought hardship to some who live among us. Amid this crisis, we are seeing an opportunity for a new mindset to address and build on citizen concerns. I join many who believe Jim Lawless will excel as chief of police, provide exceptional leadership and ensure the department embraces these values. The citizens of Edmonds are very fortunate to have such a person.
The mayor started a recruitment process for the open position of chief of police but ended that action due to the Coronavirus crisis. On April 9, 2020, he announced he would tap Acting Chief Jim Lawless as the permanent chief with council confirmation still required. In the press release, the Mayor stated, “One measure of a person’s worth is how they perform during a crisis. 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.”
The action of the mayor seemed reasonable based on unusual circumstances. But as it turns out, it would require addressing an exception to the ordinance [ECC 2.10.10 D] as there is no provision for a single candidate. Any change to the ordinance would have required agreement by the city council.
With the council voting to comply with the ordinance as it stands, it means resuming recruitment for additional names for consideration. With the mayor steadfast behind his appointment, it could be quite politically precarious to ask other candidates to come forward at this point. That said, the process should strive not to place any outside candidate or Lawless in a situation that might potentially imperil their career.
I do not believe we would find any person more qualified than Jim Lawless. We cannot exclude the value and service he has brought to our community. I make my educated choice of supporting Jim Lawless based on my extensive professional experience working with numerous chiefs and other senior-ranking command officers and government leaders at various jurisdiction levels, nationally and globally.
There are solid facts to support his nomination not only as a law enforcement officer but as a person of good character, respecting his fellow citizens; and ensuring the women and men of the department do the same. He is a long-time known quantity in Edmonds, being part of our community and joining the department in 1995. He has distinguished himself in several positions, including deputy chief.
One should never take anything for granted, no matter how right the decision is. Therefore, I ask my fellow citizen to express their support for Jim Lawless and let the councilmembers hear your voice to retain Acting Chief Lawless as the permanent chief of police. Letters, testimony, calls, texting, emails, and even posters are great ways to express your support. Thank you for your consideration of this issue.