Acting Chief Jim Lawless announces he is resigning to take Marysville job

Jim Lawless

After more than 25 years with the Edmonds Police Department, Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless announced Tuesday he would be resigning later this month.

A long-time assistant chief, Lawless will be leaving Edmonds to become assistant chief in the City of Marysville. He has served as acting chief in Edmonds since January 2020. His last day will be March 22.

Though he is leaving Edmonds, Lawless said in a statement that the residents will continue to be served by the department’s officers and praised their dedication to protecting the community.

“I remain incredibly impressed — but in no way surprised — by their continued professionalism and sacrifice during this time of uncertainty and transition,” he said. “The most diverse department in our city has continued to do their job at an exceptionally high level this past year, no matter what has been put in front of them.”

A long-time assistant chief, Lawless was appointed acting chief a year ago. During the 12 months since Lawless’ acting chief appointment, Nelson started one national search, then — after that search was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic — stated that he intended to hire Lawless without a search.

But the Edmonds City Council rejected that idea, so Nelson conducted a second search that produced two finalists: Lawless and Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Chief Sherman Pruitt. Nelson ultimately offered the job to Pruitt — but that offer — approved by the city council on a 4-3 vote — was withdrawn after discrepancies were discovered. Nelson then stated he would be conducting another national search and Lawless announcedJan. 14 that he wouldn’t be applying again.

The Edmonds City Council on Jan. 18 extended Lawless’ appointment for an additional six months.

  1. What a complete fiasco and lack of leadership by the Mayor and council members Fraley-Monillas (up for re-election in November), Distelhorst (up for re-election in November), Laura Johnson and Paine.

    Thank you for your service Mr. Lawless. I am sure you will be treated with much greater respect in Marysville. We appreciate all you have done for our community.

    Please sign the petition below if you are unhappy with how this situation was handled….

    1. I would love to read that . Where can a citizen of Edmonds find it to read. Or is that info not available without being a computer wizard. This has now made me angry…real angry. I see little if any news about this on local news channels. I read this paper and Beacon every day..thru all of this. I saw nothing. NOW this love of the computer many don’t have, many older don’t use, and many who are not financially able don’t have all these devices either.
      All of my life at least we had local news papers. AP.
      I want to know if I fought for Chief Lawless not being told WHY he wasn’t a good choice. What did he do wrong Mayor Nelson. Spill it.

  2. Due to our City Council (specifically Luke Distelhorst, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson & Susan Paine) and Mayor’s incompetency, lack of integrity and transparency regarding the hiring process for our next Chief of Police, the city of Marysville has gained a great addition to its police force.

    Thank you for your service Acting Chief Lawless. You handled this botched process with true professionalism.

  3. What a tremendous loss to our city. Thank you (interim) Chief Lawless for your years of dedication to EPD and our community. I’m not at all surprised that we are losing yet another great department head.

  4. This should have never happened. The resignation(s) the citizens of Edmonds of Edmonds SHOULD have received, Rebecca Anderson listed. Mayor Nelson is not a leader, not be a long shot. The Edmonds Police Departments loss is the Marysville Police Departments gain. Nelson has not, not once, taken any accountability or responsibility for this entire fiasco. Nelson, aided by Luke Distelhorst, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson & Susan Paine, should ALL be held accountable. Edmonds has lost a true leader and there will now be a huge void of experience, institutional knowledge and dedication in the Edmonds Police Department. With the upcoming retirement of Assistant Chief Don Anderson the command leadership at Edmonds PD will be vacant of experienced, proven leadership. As (interim) Chief Lawless said, the fine men and women of the Edmonds Police Department will continue to serve proudly the citizens of Edmonds. This is a day that never should have come.

    1. Sad isn’t it. I am beginning to think Nelson is just one of Inslee’s toys. What you say about Nelson is glaringly obvious in my opinion.
      Olympia is now a dump..Jay’s city. Seattle a real close to gutter status. INSLEE didn’t help I think he encouraged it with Durkin. Shoreline trouble too. Get North or East and you see the cities with Mayors who don’t want SOCIALISM…AND, they aren’t having the problems as much. That should be all the truth we need.

    2. A predictable outcome given that Mayor Nelson and cohorts Luke Distelhorst, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson & Susan Paine have valued leftist virtue signaling over common sense, honor and the public safety for Edmonds. The good men and women of EPD deserved better and will now face new unfamiliar leadership of unknown quality and ability. The Mayor has made it clear he wants an outsider new Chief to fix nonexistent or imaginary problems at EPD. Remember this is the same person who, as Council member Nelson, verbally attacked former Chief Compaan for announcing the truth about a reported racial incident alleged by a young man who later recanted and admitted he had made it all up.
      Jim Lawless deserved better after 25 years of outstanding service to Edmonds. Marysville’s gain is our loss.
      Mayor Nelson will say we need to put this behind us while admitting no fault in creating this fiasco. The only thing we should put behind us are Mayor Nelson and Council Members Luke Distelhorst, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson & Susan Paine. Edmonds must have new responsible leadership, not this current hot mess.

    3. 25+ years of service to the city of Edmonds and this is the outcome. Some people have attempted to denigrate AC Lawless but not one can give specifics. This is a sad day for Edmonds. With so many recent retirements of long term officers and employees, we are losing the knowledge and experience of those to guide us. AC Lawless has handled the last year with professionalism and class even after being slapped in the face many times. Congratulations Marysville, you have scored an officer and a gentleman.

  5. Wonderful news! Now Edmonds can move forward in acquiring a new chief who is respectful of all citizens and staff.

    After reading the recent report of his performance with the panel who interviewed him, I truly can’t believe he remained in that position as long as he did. All of what has been exposed will hopefully move EPD in a positive direction!

    1. Dorian you obviously have some bias with the Edmonds Police Department as your comments are without merit.

    2. Dorian,
      I don’t understand your enthusiasm on learning that Edmonds will now be without even an acting Chief of Police until further notice. How does this help public safety in the present moment? How does this help our city’s officers?

      And so we can all understand the cause for your jubilation, please point us to the specific report you reference in your comment.

      1. Here is the report I’m referring to in my post, I found the link for it on MEN:

        If you begin reading on page 4 at the bottom you will see this: “Acting Chief Lawless responded to the majority of the questions; we have done our best to note when one of the other officers responded.”

        I will highlight some areas in the report, like at the bottom of page 5 under, “Examples.” Under “Summary” on page 6, they experienced Lawless “gaslighting, ( deflection, denial and discounting.”

        See page 7 under “Examples” to see the “tokenism” of a Black female officer. Page 8 describes Lawless’s ignorance of Edmonds demographics. Page 9 shows him blaming Lynnwood PD for the lack of social worker. It also displays EPD’s lack of accountability and community engagement. Page 10 describes their lack of transparency/accountability, responsibility, understanding and ownership. Page 11 displays yet another example of “gaslighting.” (emotional abuse)

        For the record, Lynnwood PD lost their social worker and found a creative solution in partnering with Compass Health to find a new embedded worker who is a woman of color. They are also currently holding their annual community policing classes on zoom and their volunteers outnumber their paid staff.

        To the echo chamber, my comments are clearly with merit, and if you are able to ignore this report or somehow “cancel” it in your mind, I’m concerned about your well being. It is clear that Lawless has been flying under the radar for years and the fact that he is leaving now, speaks volumes.

        1. Oh you mean the contrived “report” from the “investigation” ordered by Mayor Nelson when he wanted to direct attention away from his own ineptitude. Got it.

        2. For the record, Dorian, Edmonds police asked to be involved in the conversation with LPD and Verdant –who funded the social worker–and was told no by the mayor. He tried to find creative solutions and was undermined.

          taking only a few very biased comments and see them as facts without the whole picture makes me concerned about your well being. You seem very hypocritical.

        3. Sam,

          Please review this: It states that you agree to acknowledge source material, so where is your source for claiming the mayor undermined Lawless and his alleged “creative solutions?” The report shows that Lawless was lacking creative solutions and didn’t find a social worker to be a priority for EPD.

          You also agree with this code of conduct, not to post stories that are false, misleading or untrue. Again, where is the proof of your hearsay?

          I’m not sure where you got your facts about LPD, I was told by a Lynnwood PD officer and sergeant that Compass is who they partnered with for their social worker. I was also on a zoom meeting with the new social worker recently and learned about her new job. Jim Nelson said there will be an introductory video about the new social worker coming soon.

          My facts were not biased and my source materials were included, unlike your hearsay which appears to be misleading.

          Lastly, your old and tired “hypocrisy” projections are so laughable, especially in light of your MEN code of conduct violations.

    3. You have either misread the panels report or you are intentionally misrepresenting it’s finds and conclusions. The panel found Jim Lawless fully qualified to be Chief of Police as did Mayor Nelson last March when he said he could not imagine anyone better qualified.

      If you think the panel “exposed” something negative about Jim Lawless tell us all specifically what it is or stop with the false innuendo.

      1. Oh Dorian. Why don’t you use your real last name and follow the code of conduct yourself? Such a hypocrite!! And Verdant did pay for the social worker with Lynnwood through Compass. Its all public information. You promote false bias and innuendo and hearsay all the time and didn’t in fact include reference material in your original post. Your hypocrisy is embarrassing.

  6. Having worked with Interim Chief Lawless for many years during my tenure at Verdant, I found him to be trustworthy, compassionate, ethical and an always consummate professional. Although I no longer serve the Edmonds community, I am saddened by your loss of this outstanding police chief. Edmonds’ loss is truly Marysville’s gain.

    1. Why do you think Edmonds gvmt. Doesn’t like him? They say they had a hearing? Do you know what he did or didn’t do as Chief or before being interim Chief to cause Nelson to so dislike him? Sure is a curious situation.

  7. A tremendous self inflicted loss. Yet another reason why Mike Nelson is in no way fit to be mayor of this city.

    We truly appreciate all of the work and dedication you have shown towards this city Chief Lawless. I apologize for the terrible way that you were treated. The failed leadership at City Hall is a disgraceful representation of this great city.

  8. What a tremendous loss for Edmonds. That said, being hired somewhere where this exceptional law enforcement officer will be appreciated is probably the closing of a very traumatic period for Chief Lawless. I had interacted with Chief Lawless on a number of occasions as a resident, and had always been treated with respect, dignity, and felt as though my concerns were heard and evaluated. I hope that residents see some similarity between what has happened with Chief Lawless and compare that to the treatment Chief Best received in Seattle last year where a well respected and extremely competent leader was run out of town. I certainly hope the residents in Edmonds can force the changes that need to happen to right the ship in our community.

    1. Good point. Best was disrespected. She tried…but the SOCIALISTS would have none of that. I will say here I am Democrat…not a Socialist.
      Trying and succeeding to be like Seattle is a terrible goal…I think we all see that. The 2 new businesses that recently moved here from SEATTLE apparently didn’t like it there at all. Fear driven she said for her employees being on the dangerous streets full of crime, filth and anything goes behavior.
      Want them to leave Edmonds too. Keep this up and yes it will be Seattle. Oddly probably worse.

      1. What you are seeing in these instances is not socialism or even progressivism, it is nothing other than poorly thought out PC activism. I too am saddened to see reason and fairplay sacrificed at the alter of pop culture political correctness.

  9. Chief Lawless continues to act class and professionalism. Thank you for your service, and I wish you all the best
    To the mayor and city council~ shame on you. Do better.

  10. Dear MEN: do you have information that can be shared re the document referred to by D. Leigh?

    “After reading the recent report of his performance with the panel who interviewed him, I truly can’t believe he remained in that position as long as he did. All of what has been exposed will hopefully move EPD in a positive direction!”

    Thank you.

    1. I believe this is related to the Equity and Social Justice report from the mayor’s task force.

  11. Congrats Jim Lawless, may the wind be at your back and you enjoy your new position, you deserve all of the best. To the City, OUCH! this hurts in more ways than one. Everyone please remember the players in this game

  12. I served in the Edmonds Police Department for 38 years. I worked with Chief Lawless when he was an Officer, a Corporal, a fellow Sergeant and ultimately Assistant Chief and acting Chief. I think he is one of the best leaders we could have had for our department. When other agencies around us are having problems, Chief Lawless has been very professional, loyal, an outstanding leader and servant to the community. His commitment to Edmonds has always been outstanding.

    During his tenure as Assistant Chief, he helped create the most diverse department anywhere in the State, certainly more diverse than the population they serve. There has been no information provided, nor any that I am aware of that would warrant removing him from the position.

    Some council members published in advance their desire to hire a person of a different nationality or gender, which is absolutely illegal. They mandated 3 candidates. Examining the qualifications, Chief Lawless was the most qualified. Based on something other than qualifications, the Mayor picked the less qualified. When that candidate was finally disqualified for dishonesty, there was only one qualified candidate left standing. Chief Lawless should have been approved at that time.

    The Mayor and Council are not qualified to provide us with a qualified candidate for Police Chief and now Marysville will benefit from the professionalism and experience of the Chief we should have had.

    The council members named earlier and the Mayor are not only incompetent, but during the process they ignored the citizens, disregarded anything that may have been shared by our diverse officers, and pushed a purely political agenda.

  13. Many congrats to Assistant Police Chief Jim Lawless on his new position in Marysville! I’m sure he will be much more respected and appreciated by the City of Marysville than he has been of late in the City of Edmonds.

    What a huge loss and shame this is for the citizens of Edmonds who respect what good leadership within a police department means.

    It is becoming more clear with each passing day how clueless and out of touch our mayor and most of our city council members are with what the citizens of Edmonds value.

    They need to be voted out of office as soon as they are up for election. Please keep that in mind, and make your vote count in 2021 and beyond.

    Thank you Assistant Chief Lawless for your 25 years of dedication and leadership to your fellow officers and the citizens of Edmonds! Best of luck to you in Marysville!

  14. Such a shame that Edmonds lost a qualified person and treated him so poorly. Disgraceful on the treatment he received. I am so glad he found a better community that will treat him with the respect he deserves. A loss for Edmonds, a gain for Marysville. Good luck Chief! Wish you all the best.

  15. Cancel culture 1, Edmonds citizens 0. Can I hear the word “equity” a few million more times this year? The Edmonds police force is known to its citizens. Unfounded accusations can get by government panels, where findings are never challenged, but we need facts. Effecting real change involves communication and working alongside each other. Censoring, labeling and marginalizing are tools of weak dictatorships.

  16. I have confidence that the men and women who serve on EPD will continue to serve this community fairly and justly despite the failure of elected officials.

    Nelson, I’m sure, will claim that he couldn’t get the votes for Chief Lawless, certainly pinning the debacle of this process on the four councilmembers. The city knows who the four are – and they did botch this one. Nelson could have stood on principle – but he didn’t. And the fact that he defended his HR Director, who failed to follow protocols and process, and yet is still employed here also speaks volumes.

    These six individuals have managed to leave our EPD with no Chief, no Acting Chief, an Assistance Chief who is retiring because of this debacle all to simply promote an agenda. Next time stick with Best-Fit, Best-Qualified.

    Chief Lawless, your legacy of dedication to your team and this community will be remembered kindly by many. To the 4 Councilmembers, HR, and Nelson, your legacy will be remembered as well…not in the same way.

  17. First, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for acting Chief Lawless and the many years of service that he has unselfishly given to our community. His many contributions have helped shape our city into a safe and welcoming place, and while we have many opportunities to improve and grow, we have benefited immensely from his leadership, knowledge, and experience.

    Chief Lawless, Thank you for your service and good luck in your new role!

    Public safety is the most foundational element of a strong community, and while the announcement of Chief Lawless’s resignation comes at a difficult time when we are already actively searching for a new leader, we must not be discouraged by this news. City leadership and residents alike, must now work together to ensure that the needs and safety of the greater Edmonds community remains the priority. The process for finding and selecting the next Police Chief must involve the broader community with input from all stakeholder groups to ensure that we position ourselves for a better future.

    If elected, I will work diligently to ensure that we confirm the best and the brightest, to fill the position of Chief, someone whose approach would not only fit into our community but support what makes it so special. — Will Chen

    1. Will:

      I am confused by your comment “we should not be discouraged” Why not? Lawless leaving Edmonds for Marysville is a huge loss for Edmonds and the only reason it’s happening is because our Mayor and 4 inept council members decided to play political correctness with one of the most important decisions for the city. How is this not discouraging? And now I hear that they are calling Vivian Olson racist for conducting a background check on Mr. Pruitt.

      This whole situation has been a complete fiasco with no one taking ownership and responsibility for their actions. All they have done is accuse Edmonds of being racist, called the people who live in downtown a pack of rich white people and sling mud at whoever challenges or disagrees with them. They do this because they do not have a narrative that they can defend. The Mayor and the 4 council members are participating in very divisive behavior and not basing decisions on what is in the best interest of Edmonds.

      Will, your comments in MEN are softball comments with no real direction on how you would have handled the situation. I know you are trying to be positive and I appreciate that but I personally want a leader who call tell us how they really feel and call out our leaders when necessary. Is this how you truly feel or did someone coach you while writing this? I also know that you once supported up-zoning Edmonds but may have possibly changed your mind. Is this true? We need a leader who puts Edmonds first, that stands up for what they truly believe in, that is inclusive and makes decisions based on what’s best for Edmonds. That is why I am supporting Janelle Cass (E) for Everyone.

  18. Marysville is very fortunate to have gained an outstanding employee. I wish Chief Lawless all of the best in his new position and future. It’s a sad day for Edmonds and our police department. I’m sorry for how Chief Lawless was treated by the Edomonds administration at the end of his career with us and certainly understand why he would seek to work somewhere else. Thank you Chief Lawless for your many years of service to Edmonds.

  19. I am disappointed in the Edmonds City Council and Mayor. I personally know Jim Lawless. He has been treated unfairly by the City Council. Now you lost a great candidate for police chief and you have little hope of hiring anyone qualified soon. You have created a void in the police department’s leadership. Shame on you for your cowardly act. You reap what you sew and the community will suffer for it.

  20. Congratulations Chief Lawless. You are leaving with your head held high. Good Luck and best wishes to you and you family.

  21. It seems to me that, although I do not know of everything going on within the City of Edmonds, Jim Lawless is the same upstanding, dedicated Officer that he was many years ago when he started in Law Enforcement in Key West. He started his career dedicated to serving the community, and it seems to me, many many years later, he continues his dedication to the community with integrity and loyalty. Congratulations Chief on your new position, I am praying that you continue to be blessed and protected. Stay well, Be Safe, and God Bless you as you move on.

  22. Jim Lawless made a great choice to go to Marysville! The Marysville city council believes in protecting it’s citizens and is 100% behind their police depart and the rule of law. Drug users will be arrested and prosecuted unlike Edmonds. See the headline from the Herald newspaper.


    The City Council voted on Monday to adopt an ordinance that makes it a gross misdemeanor to possess a controlled substance without a prescription
    The council passed the ordinance because there currently is no state law regarding simple drug possession. In February, five state Supreme Court justices ruled the state statute was unconstitutional because it didn’t require prosecutors to prove someone knowingly, intentionally possessed drugs.

    As a result, local authorities can no longer arrest someone on a felony charge solely because the person has a few grams of heroin, meth, cocaine or other illicit drugs — unless there is suspicion that the individual intended to deliver the drugs, according to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.

    Will Edmonds follow this example- I think not! Or the council can prove me wrong.

    Remember it is illegal to cut your own trees in Edmonds but deadly drugs are ok. What a city!!!

  23. I ran a very successful business in Edmonds for forty one years. I had to call on the officers of the
    Edmonds Police Department a total of four times. They were diligent, honest, hard working and driven to catch the criminals involved in the crimes. I had a very hard time understanding the statements of various council members involved in this fiasco. If I was Chief Lawless I would not stay either. Edmonds will miss his hard work, conviction, and dedication to do a great job.! We all need to speak up and vote these Edmonds Council members out of office! I could not hardly believe what Ms. Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said and did not seem like we lived and worked in the same city. No respect for years spent, history, commitment, and dedication to law and order and serving all of our community. This is a big loss for us all!

  24. I wish the best for Jim Lawless and am glad that he found a good fit. Best of luck and I hope he has a wonderful career in Marysville.

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