Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said Tuesday afternoon that the City of Edmonds won’t be proceeding with Sherman Pruitt as its new police chief — and will launch a new national search in the new year “with a new slate of candidates.”
“Yesterday, the city received new information that Sherman Pruitt omitted relevant details from his application materials,” Nelson said in a statement. “Chief Pruitt explained that the omission was a mistake and the result of forgetfulness. Nonetheless, the inclusion of all relevant information is a requirement, and this omission has led the city to decide not to proceed with Chief Pruitt for the position of Chief of Police.”
Pruitt — the current Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Police Chief — “would have brought many great qualities to the Edmonds Police Department, so I am very disappointed by this outcome,” Nelson said. “But if the city were to overlook this omission, it would create a precedent that is not in the best interest of the city for satisfying its legal requirement to do a thorough background check for all law enforcement applicants. I simply cannot ignore such an omission, even for a strong candidate like Chief Pruitt. So, unfortunately, the city will not be able to move forward with Chief Pruitt.”
Nelson noted that Pruitt’s candidacy “ended up being very controversial, with many concerned residents making negative statements about him that were based on false or misconstrued information. I did not back down on my support of Chief Pruitt at the time because I knew the negative statements were not truthful or accurate, and were instead based on broad assumptions about his qualifications and experience without knowing all the facts. Frankly, I was disappointed when the process of selecting a new chief became so personal, emotional, and antagonistic. I hope that I never see a repeat of anything like it.”
“I am committed now, more than ever, to my vision for our police department – a department that is a stronger, more transparent, accountable, and a safer space for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color in our community,” Nelson added. “I want our department to be an example for other police departments in Washington.”
In conducting a nationwide search in the new year with a new slate of candidates, Nelson said the city will look for the following qualities:
· Demonstrated leadership in community policing, willingness to ask the tough questions about Edmonds Police policies and practices, and implement changes based on findings, ensuring those changes evidence positive changes to the community through consistent evaluation and data collection.
· Demonstrated leadership in promoting women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQ+ officers in command positions;
· Demonstrated leadership in preventing gun violence, and preventing domestic violence and violence against women;
· Demonstrated leadership in personally working with and engaging People of Color to make them feel safe and welcome in our community; and
· Demonstrated leadership in protecting pedestrians and enforcing traffic safety laws.
“We will find a police chief who is forward thinking and acting,” Nelson said. “Because the future of policing in Edmonds should be a reflection of our community – vibrant, safe, compassionate, caring, and welcoming.”