Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson on Tuesday announced that he has selected two finalists for the the position of Edmonds Police Chief — one of them Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless. The second candidate is Sherman Pruitt, current chief of police, director of public safety and emergency management services, with the Sauk-Suiattle Police Department.
“Both candidates bring a wealth of valuable experience,” Nelson said in announcing the finalists.
The two were chosen after a nearly two-month application process, and will now participate in two interview panels — one comprised of community members and the other of law enforcement officials — during the week of Nov. 2. There will also be an online public forum Monday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. Residents who are interested in submitting questions for the forum should send those to Jessica.email@example.com no later than Wednesday, Nov. 4.
Prior to his assignment as acting chief, Lawless was the assistant chief of police – field services with the City of Edmonds for 12 1/2 years, and was named acting chief after longtime Police Chief Al Compaan retired in December. Lawless has worked for the City of Edmonds for 25 years, and has over 33 years’ experience in law enforcement. He holds a master’s degree in public administration, a masters certificate in law enforcement management and a bachelor of arts, social sciences (magna cum laude) with an emphasis in sociology/psychology/criminal justice. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
In Pruitt’s current position, he supervises and manages the police department, fish and wildlife enforcement and emergency management services. Prior to his current position, Pruitt — who has been in law enforcement for 14 years — was the interim chief of police with the Tulalip Police Department. Prior to entering law enforcement, Pruitt served in both the Marine Corps and the Washington Air National Guard for 20 years in total. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and is a graduate of both the Chief of Police Command Executive Academy and the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Management Training.
According to the city’s announcement, the initial four-week Chief of Police posting received 16 applications. Of those, 12 were selected as meeting minimum qualifications, and were further reviewed by the city’s human resources director with respect to the specific qualifications for police chief. Most candidates failed to exhibit sufficient command staff experience, having only corrections experience, and/or having worked in agencies much smaller than the Edmonds Police Department, the city said. After that review, three candidates were forwarded to the mayor for his review — and he approved all three candidates to proceed in the process.
Once the candidates were notified they had been selected for further consideration, one withdrew from the process, the city said. As a result, the position was reposted for three additional weeks with the intent of obtaining another qualified candidate — so there was a slate of three candidates for Edmonds City Council consideration. The three-week posting resulted in five additional applicants; however, none of them met the qualifications to move on, the city. said.
Community panel members selected to interview two finalists inlude:
Dr. Gustavo Balderas, Superintendent Edmonds School District
Darnesha Weary, community member
Sekou Koné, Diversity Commission member
Alicia Crank, community member
Owen Lee, Youth Commissioner member
Richard Taylor, community member
Jan Flom, Swedish Edmonds Nursing Director
Shubert Ho, business owner
Law enforcement panel members include:
Dan Templeman, Everett Chief of Police
James Nelson, Lynnwood Chief of Police
Shawn Ledford, Shoreline Chief of Police
Ross Sutton, Edmonds Police Officer Association President
A second representative to be determinef from the Edmonds Police Officer Association
Edmonds City Code provides for city council interviews of two or three finalists. The council must approve having only two finalists to interview, even in cases when enhanced recruitment efforts have yielded only two finalists, the city said. After their interviews, the council will provide their input to the mayor, who will make his final appointment decision based on input from council, the panelists and the public forum — plus his own interviews.
Nelson’s appointment is subject to council confirmation.
The selection of Lawless as a finalist comes after the city council in August rejected efforts by Nelson and his administration to amend the current city code requirement for the mayor to bring three candidates before the council for director positions. That proposed change would have paved the way for Nelson to permanently appoint Lawless, who was the mayor’s choice for the permanent police chief job.
Even though Nelson had come into the mayor’s office in January announcing he would open up a recruitment process for a police chief, he explained in late July that he chose Acting Chief Lawless after watching the long-time Edmonds police veteran in action during the COVID-19 crisis. Nelson also said he was “very doubtful” the city could find candidates “that will fill the need and immediacy during this crisis. He (Lawless) is the best person for the job.”