Calling him “the best person for the task” of adapting to the changing police environment, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson announced Thursday he has selected Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Police Chief Sherman Pruitt as the next City of Edmonds Chief of Police.
Pruitt was selected over Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless, who started in the Edmonds Police Department in 1995 and has served as an assistant chief since 2008. Lawless was appointed acting chief after long-time Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan retired a year ago, and at one point Nelson said that Lawless was his choice for permanent chief.
However, the Edmonds City Council insisted that Nelson follow the rules for executive-level city appointments and conduct a search process for three applicants. When three suitable applicants could not be found, the council agreed to consider two finalists: Pruitt and Lawless.
“I have greatly appreciated Jim Lawless’s service to our community and his leadership during these challenging times,” Nelson said. “He has served our department honorably and with distinction for 25 years. He has been instrumental in holding our police department to the highest standards.”
Nelson also said that he hopes Lawless will continue to serve as assistant chief.
Pruitt’s appointment is expected to go before the Edmonds City Council for confirmation on Dec. 15.
A former U.S. Marine who served tours in Somalia and Iraq, Pruitt then spent eight more years in the National Guard. He started his police career on the Tulalip Tribal force, where he served as a patrol officer, detective and SWAT team sergeant, and was assigned to command of the patrol, corrections, SWAT and investigations units. Pruitt was interim chief in Tulalip. He moved to the Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Police to become chief, director of public safety and emergency management. Pruitt has 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.
“We are seeing many changes in policing today,” Nelson said. “Social justice, and equity and accountability to the community are important issues being raised in every town in our nation. In order to be effective and best serve our citizens, our police department must balance consistency and predictability with adaptation and change. This changing police environment is one we must be able to adapt to quickly, and I believe Sherman Pruitt is the best person for this task.”
Nelson also said that Pruitt “is well-suited not only to build on the past police work in our city but also to explore new opportunities to engage our community and provide new training and best practices to guide and grow our department into the future.”
Colleagues described Pruitt “as an engaging leader with high emotional intelligence who does not shy away from doing the hard work, and whose integrity, honesty, and accountability are beyond reproach,” Nelson added. “He has established close ties to the communities he has served and has a history of reaching out to and connecting with all members of those communities. His willingness to listen, and his compassion and caring for others came through clearly during the interview process.”