City of Edmonds seeking community feedback on what’s desired in next police chief

As part of its recruitment process for the next Edmonds Chief of Police, the City of Edmonds is asking the community to weigh in regarding the desired characteristics and qualifications for the job.

The city has hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to conduct a search Edmonds’ next police chief. The IACP has released a survey to gather community feedback to help develop characteristics and qualifications of an ideal candidate. Survey participation is voluntary, and responses are confidential.

“Community input is essential to developing a shared vision of the qualifications and expectations for our next police chief,” said Mayor Mike Nelson. “I encourage our residents, business owners and workers to participate in this survey.”

The survey is open now and can be accessed at The survey will remain open until Sunday, March 14.

Any questions regarding the survey or if you need assistance in completing it, contact


  1. The survey is a waste of time and tax payer dollars!! ACOP Lawless has all of the qualities that the questioner is looking for in ranking of a candidate to rise to the top. His law enforcement experience along with knowing the community and the support from the community and other law enforcement agencies says it all. Mike Nelson this is plain and stupid silliness on your part and the 4 council members in your pocket! Do the right thing and make ACOP permanent chief. If Lawless has be good for the last 15 months that should say it all!
    Fred Gouge

    1. Gouge, pretty sure that AC Lawless withdrew his candidacy some time ago … how about we just be here right now?

  2. Let’s start with someone who is familiar with Edmonds; is the best-qualified; will earn the respect of his/her troops, understands community policing in addition to taking a hard stance on drug and property crime – and knows how to work with a mayor who overlooks laws, policies, and procedures.

    1. How exactly does any person chosen for chief of police work with a mayor who overlooks laws, policies and procedures? Bigger question. Who would want a Chief of police who would accept the position. Where do you think you find a man or woman who we the Citizens of Edmonds wants. One that plays lap dog to Mayor or a real one who is taught and trained to do the opposite of what they respect? Yes men are not what I want. I expect Chief Lawless was not keen on be a YES man policeman.
      I am not keen on having one either. Clearly we need policing here, VERY clearly. And that is just going to get bigger and bolder on 99. And other places. Then the corruption will continue on down…So…hope for the best and be prepared to watch and protect yourselves and your own legally owned property.

    2. Longtime Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan announced his retirement 15 months ago, and the city is just now getting around to asking citizens for their input? Why wasn’t this done a year ago? The delay is mystifying. If citizens had been engaged at the beginning, perhaps the city could have avoided the missteps, the drama that consumed too much civic energy last year~ and we would probably have a permanent chief of police on station already.

  3. Given the above statements, I doubt this process will be without clashing.

    I personally do not have any friends that are members of the police. The second Amendment supports the right for citizens to carry weapons if they have a license to carry. Between the news events and entertainment on TV, guns and violence have shown that it takes leadership and skill set to be a protector of community. Without community support and without the confidence that the community believes in its police, then good luck.

  4. From My Edmonds News December 17, 2019:

    After more than 40 years with the Edmonds Police Department, Chief Al Compaan has announced he will retire at the end of December. … Earling and Mayor-Elect Mike Nelson have agreed that Assistant Chief Jim Lawless will serve as acting chief upon Compaan’s retirement, leading the department into 2020.

    444 days later, citizens of Edmonds still do not know who our next Police Chief will be.

    Now we are told the City of Edmonds is seeking community feedback on what is desired in next police chief.

    I do not recall the City ever seeking community feedback related to an Appointive Office position in the past.

    Some history of past appointment efforts is provided in my Guest Column published back at the beginning of 2012:

  5. It’s not up to the police to take a “hard stance” on drug and property crime. It’s only up to the police to arrest people caught taking part in drug and property crime. The “hard stance” part is up to the legislative system, court system, corrections system, and society as a whole. All the police should have to be concerned about is enforcing all our laws equally and fairly. The problems start whenever the police see it as their duty to take a “hard stance” on anything. It’s their duty to enforce laws made by civil authority as equally and fairly as possible. It’s a very hard job.

  6. Just like RBG, let’s let the next mayor decide who the the next Chief is. I think *everyone* agrees with this statement.

    1. Posting on behalf of Rebecca:

      It is disappointing Edmonds still doesn’t have a permanent police chief due to the direct actions of the Mayor and his staff. As a result, the city of Edmonds will not have Lawless as its next permanent chief.

      Nelson announced Lawless as one of his finalists for the position.

      When his first choice fell thru, Nelson did not extend the offer to Lawless.

      Due to this fiasco, Edmonds is now taking the search for chief of police internationally. Why? Because the state agency that could have been very helpful to the search has turned down the city’s request for assistance.

      I hope residents (voters) realize (and remember) that four council members approved Nelson’s first choice for Chief of Police.

      The applicant had documented domestic violence incidents in his past (not convictions). Instead of acknowledging this, Nelson rescinded the offer by finding an omission on his application.

      Edmonds may be the first city council to vote in a chief of police with domestic violence in his background. What a first to be proud of!

      I hope residents remember Nelson has still not owned up to knowing about the domestic violence information.

      He has remained silent. Instead of having the integrity to admit these mistakes, he distracts via Facebook by saying a group of Edmonds residents are simply upset because they didn’t get their way.

      Is that the leadership Edmonds wants to continue having for three more years?

      Nelson’s actions and those of four council members – Luke Distelhorst, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson & Susan Paine – send an extremely clear message to the residents of Edmonds. Domestic violence is “ok”.

      Why are so few people upset about this issue? The truth is still the truth, Nelson is jeopardizing the public safety of Edmonds.
      Rebecca Anderson

  7. Edmonds needs a chief who is well trained in providing a mentally healthy culture within the force. Someone who doesn’t expect officers to “suck it up,” when they are mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. The statistics now show that more officers are dying by suicide than in the line of duty. Why is that? In other jobs if you’re not happy you quit and find another job. Yet, police officers are becoming so overwhelmed they are killing themselves.

    Some police chiefs understand the toll that the job takes on officers and that the officers need a sensitive leader who listens, and takes their concerns seriously. A chief who promotes a culture of emotional safety and vulnerability so officers know they can ask for and receive the mental health help they need. Many officers come from military backgrounds and already have PTSD when they join the force. After years of on the job trauma without mental health support, they end their life.

    1. Dorian – I agree. Mental health is a core attribute that needs to be part of any organization. And the health of an organization starts with the individual leading it. Law enforcement and military service are both commendable careers – and can be taxing. No question.

      A slight correction: less than twenty five percent of the police force is made up former military – 19 percent of police officers are veterans, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data performed by Gregory B. Lewis and Rahul Pathak of Georgia State University for The Marshall Project.

      Regarding PTSD – far more civilians suffer from PTS than us veterans. It’s tragic that PTS is mostly assigned to Veterans…that was a mistake we made at the FED VA with those public awareness campaigns.

      1. A mentally healthy culture is needed in all of our organizations and institutions including the family (in all it’s current configurations). The problem is a lack of the availability of good mental health treatment options for our entire population. Unless you are wealthy or at least have a really good general health insurance plan you can pretty much forget about getting any sort of meaningful long term mental health or drug abuse treatment.

        For our police it is a revolving door of picking up drug and property offenders and having the over burdened Court system kick them back onto the street unless they are main stream dealers, a few of whom they actually charge. It’s pretty obvious that the Seattle Police have pretty much given up on trying to do much of anything to stop the proliferation of the mentally ill, drug addicted homeless population in their jurisdiction. Society gives them no tools except incarceration to do anything meaningful to reverse the problem. sadly, the jails are already full up.

      2. Michael
        I question the accuracy of the “Census data” you referenced by The Marshall Project. See: Here is states, “Official data on the impact of veteran-cops is scarce. Nearly ALL of the 33 police departments contacted by The Marshall Project declined to provide a list of officers who have served in the military.”

        The majority of local officers I have personally met and spoken with have a military background. Usually if you ask the officer, they will tell you the truth as they are proud of their service to our country.

        In addition, there are many undiagnosed cases of PTSD in both the military and the police force, due to the mental health stigma and leaders who shame and mock those who ask for help. They remain in denial or in the closet about their condition. This is something that needs to change and finding a police chief who has been trained in emotional intelligence and is himself mentally healthy, is paramount. See:

        Without emotional intelligence training and mental health support, officers can become aggressive and either act out using excessive force, or act in and harm themselves.

  8. With all of the signs in Edmonds supporting the group that promotes “fry them like bacon”, our police have a challenging job ahead. And our school system has apparently signed up, as well.

  9. Reading thru all these comments, especially the last one, it becomes obvious to me that our police and our school systems can’t possibly accomplish all that we expect of them. Basically these two functions in our society have been left essentially holding the bag for everything our society as a whole does not want to address or face up to.

    What choices do we give the police when they find someone mentally ill and strung out on drugs living in a tent in one of our parks or in an old van in front of our house. Is jail the only option? Should we build more jails or more rehab centers? Should we have some sort of public housing to put these people in to get them out of our parks and off our streets? Do we expect the cop to be a social worker and a vigilante to protect our parks, homes and private property? Seems like we are asking more from these folks than they can humanly do; or at least do well at all times.

    Similarly, what choices do we give our teachers when several of their students show up having not eaten in a couple days and unkempt and dirty from living in a car or a tent somewhere? Should the teachers be required to see that the kids get a shower in the school gym, a hot meal from the cafeteria and a few hours good sleep before they crack the books? Is that really a teacher’s job or should it be?

    Our screwball ideologically driven political systems are not beginning to meet our real needs as a society. I don’t know the answer, but I do know what we have isn’t working anymore.

  10. Clinton,

    I think much of what is causing these issues is the breakdown of the family. Children do best in a home with a mother and a father who care about them. I can’t imagine not having my husband along side me raising our children. This may not be a popular position and yes, single parent households can raise well functioning children, but it’s better with two parents. Fathers make a huge difference in the lives of their children. Having a strong foundation at home builds a stronger community. As the family goes, so goes the culture.

    Will this solve all the problems? No, but it will make things better. And simply by stating this position I am in no way disregarding single parent households. They are doing double duty and should be supported.

  11. My guess is that we need to find a police chief that meets the qualifications as a starting point. Qualities? Honesty, transparency, community focused, and results driven. Our police are not mental health counselors, family counselors, drug treatment coordinators, etc. They are tasked with protecting and serving the population. They have a very strict set of rules and guidelines they must follow.

    Our next police chief should be able to repair the damage already done, gain trust in the community, and continue (much as our current acting chief) to educate, adjust, and lead the Edmonds Police Department.

  12. Somehow, a theme of mental health came under this article. A response to some: Bringing forward concerns of stress in occupations of responsibility continues to be a systemic problem. I attended a full honors funeral of an officer. His suicide was prepared for when it was “needed;” carried out immediately after his last DUI, before the chance of losing benefits. He sacrificed his life for his children’s financial future. Ironically he was nationally recognized for circumventing a suicide attempt in THE final moment.

    Addiction to alcohol. Substance abuse is not a crime; it is an extreme personal pain, with shame, and others piling on. Unfortunately keeping alcoholism in remission may reach 30% of the population. For the rest, alcohol continues to temporarily sedate demons.

    Edmonds, Enough of the We/They and 3rd Class Citizens to be “moved out of sight”, so we don’t have to be inconvenienced seeing the “blight” of human survival. We don’t “put” people. Experiencing homelessness is not a crime. If one’s view is distanced, how about trading the ownership and blame to compassion. I don’t mean more food, and few direct dollars. I mean our learning, thoughts, beliefs, and change: policy change. Stop being NIMBYs. We know ourselves, family members, children, colleagues… Open our medicine cabinets, have another cocktail, one for the road.

    Stop the City Social Worker and 500K! Not Needed!

    Edmonds, Work with the well established Snohomish County Mental Health Social Workers, with a full division dedicated to Behavioral Health, Veterans Officers, Crisis, Embedded Social Workers, Integration throughout the County working along side law enforcement. The county has the understanding of liability, required reporting, procedures, policies confidentiality, HIPPA, education, on going training, job descriptions.

    How about some common sense and saving the City Money rather than building an empire?

  13. One of the main reasons that Edmonds needs a Social Worker is so they can have access to the Diversion Center in Everett.

    I was told recently by a local police officer that if a city doesn’t have an embedded social worker they can’t bring people to the Diversion Center. I’m guessing that Edmonds doesn’t have any local shelter beds or treatment centers so having this option to bring people to Everett is a huge resource.

    In addition, a social worker is trained to speak with people on the streets who are afraid of the police. I was just listening to the story of a new embedded social worker in Lynnwood, talk about how she was able to convince someone to get treatment that was on the street. She was with a police officer and the person didn’t want to speak with her until the police officer walked away from them. She was too afraid and wouldn’t have been willing to accept help if it weren’t for the social worker. They are truly a bridge from the homeless and mentally ill folks on the streets to the resources that will bring them health and wholeness.

    Social workers are also trained in areas of suicide prevention and awareness. We can all agree that police officers are not social workers and often just their presence with their badge and gun, can escalate situations involving mental health issues.

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