The position of Edmonds Chief of Police is arguably one of the most important positions in our local government structure: Good management of our police force bears directly on our safety and security. The continuing lack of clarity and transparency by Mayor Nelson about his reasoning for bypassing Assistant Chief Lawless for the police chief position is causing continuing angst in our community. In reflecting on what has brought us to this point, the following points occurred to me:
- Assistant Chief Lawless’ personal and professional background has been thoroughly vetted at least three times by the city; first when we was hired as a patrol officer over 25 years ago, second when he was proposed by the mayor in April 2000 to be the police chief appointee and finally during 4th Quarter 2020 when he was selected from a field of 12 applicants to be one of two finalists for the position.
- Assistant Chief Lawless rose through the ranks from an entry-level officer position to the level of Assistant Chief based on his excellent performance in the Edmonds Police Department.
- Since Assistant Chief Lawless clearly passed multiple times a thorough background vetting process by our HR department, is highly qualified and was one of two semifinalists named by the mayor for the police chief position, a normal hiring process would result in the offer being tendered to the applicant remaining if one of the two finalists is disqualified.
In short, this is the problem the public is seeing. It can only be assumed something behind the scenes has occurred between November and the present that has caused the mayor to believe he doesn’t have Assistant Chief Lawless’ full loyalty. However, since the mayor isn’t being forthcoming and transparent about his reasons for bypassing Assistant Chief Lawless, our citizens are left to speculate why he is not being selected for the police chief position. The mayor issued an announcement through our Economic Development Director last week stating he would provide additional details about the police chief search process in “a couple days.” That timeframe has elapsed. It is well past time for the public to be provided information that can help them make sense out of what has transpired around the Edmonds Police Chief search.