Reminder: Public meet-and-greet set for Aug. 4 to meet police chief candidates

Edmond police chief finalists, from left: Michelle Bennett, Lawrence Hunter and Dante Orlandi

Three candidates for Edmonds police chief have been selected to move forward to the final steps in the selection process. They are Acting Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett, retired Waterbury, Connecticut Police Captain Lawrence Hunter and retired Pennsylvania State Police Officer Dante Orlandi.

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson will meet individually with the three finalists Wednesday morning, Aug. 4, after which the Edmonds City Council will hold publicly accessible interviews via Zoom with each candidate — at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Later that day, at 5 p.m., the public is invited to a meet-and-greet with the candidates in the Plaza Room above the Edmonds Library, located at 650 Main St.

After initial introductions and brief remarks from the finalists, members of the public will be free to mingle and chat with the candidates. A brief online survey will be available for individuals to provide their comments afterward. Instructions on accessing the survey, including a postcard with a QR code, will be provided.

More about the finalists:

Acting Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett worked for the King County Sheriff’s Office from 1990 until 2021 in a series of increasingly responsible capacities, most notably serving as Chief of Police for the City of Maple Valley from 2004 to 2014 and the City of Sammamish from 2016 to 2019.  She was appointed as Edmonds acting police chief in March of this year. Bennett received a bachelor of arts degree in law and justice, a master of science degree in psychology/organizational development and behavior, and a doctorate in education, with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction.  She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and of the FBI National Academy.  In addition, Bennett has taught criminal justice classes since 1998 in Washington state colleges, as well as for the School of Police Staff and Command for Northwestern University.

Retired Captain Lawrence Hunter served for 24 years in the Waterbury, Connecticut Police Department, starting out in the patrol division, with promotions to sergeant, lieutenant and ultimately to captain in 2017. His service included the department’s crisis intervention team, as well as commanding officer of the professional standards division. He taught defensive tactics as well as fair and impartial policing, human behavior and civil complaints. Hunter received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in forensic psychology from Walden University.

Retired Major Dante Orlandi is a retired Pennsylvania State Police officer, having served in management and leadership roles over a 34-year career in the ninth-largest police department in the country.  His career included service in several increasingly responsible roles, including as the department’s chief administrator with responsibility for policy development, control, supervision, and program implementation within the organization, and accountable for the effective delivery of police services to the community. His service culminated in the position of commander of an area comprising 36 police stations throughout Pennsylvania and director of records and identification. Orlandi is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

The city hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to conduct the search process. In a Wednesday announcement of the candidate finalists, the city said that IACP conducted stakeholder interviews with members of the community and city staff, and also surveyed the the community for input on desirable attributes of the next chief of police. Similarly, a survey was provided to police department staff.

A candidate profile was built based on the feedback received from these interviews and surveys., the city said.

The position was advertised nationally for seven weeks. Candidates were reviewed by the IACP recruiting team. Those deemed to best fit the candidate profile were invited to participate in an assessment center.  Assessment centers are designed to evaluate dimensions necessary to be a successful chief of police, and the result is a comprehensive picture of each candidate’s capabilities and a quantitative evaluation on job-related dimensions.

Candidates completed an analysis presentation, structured interview, and written exercise. They were scored on the following areas:

  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Interpersonal Insight
  • Problem Analysis
  • Judgment
  • Decisiveness
  • Planning & Organization
  • Delegation & Control

Finalists were interviewed by the mayor, with the three finalists moved forward for council interviews and presentation to the public.

After the in-city day Aug. 4, the mayor will review all the input received from the public and city councilmembers and identify his preferred candidate, the city announcement said. After that, the city’s human resources department will initiate the required background investigation, which will be conducted by Public Safety Testing. Upon satisfactory completion of the background process, the mayor will announce his appointment. That appointment will be presented to the city council for their review and confirmation.

  1. Wow a 34 year career while being a commander for 36 police stations, that is impressive.

    Still, we lost a lot in not having a candidate like Lawless. Do we even know that all of these candidates are willing to move themselves and their families here? It would be a shame to get far into the process and find out that they don’t want to move.

    The one thing for sure is that Mayor Nelson has made so many repeated mistakes in this police chief process that he needs to recuse himself as being unfit for this decision.

  2. I would trust Sponge Bob Square Pants to conduct the private interviews over the proven incompetent mayor.

  3. I’m very pleased that the Edmonds community has an opportunity to watch the interview process as well as meet the candidates themselves – this is a welcome step towards greater transparency, which was absent in earlier rounds. I hope those who care about this hire take advantage of this opportunity to be part of it and then share their views on their preferred candidate with the Mayor and City Council members. Public opinion will matter here.

    1. I’m wondering why the search firm didn’t conduct background investigations on the candidates?

    2. Why wait until the Mayor makes his pick to have Human Resources start their vetting? Shouldn’t that be done before the top three have been recommended? Is this going to be another s__t_how? Make sure they are quality candidates before they meet the public.

      1. Dorothy & Sherry per Washington State law a a background check cannot be performed until an offer of employment is accepted by the applicant. The employer can then run the background check to see if anything comes up. That is why it has not been done beforehand.

  4. If looks like all these candidates are qualified on paper, if not over qualified in some respects. Based on her performance on the job and her relatively local experience I think I’d mainly be pulling for Ms. Bennett.

    This whole process was a horrible waste of tax payer time and money. This Police Chief debacle alone, is good reason for the people to demand an administrative and investigatory role for the City Council. The Strong/Mayor/Weak Council system simply does not work for truly democratic and representative rule. When we change Mayors again we will merely be changing which vested interest groups and power brokers will be happy. The citizens are just a nuisance in this arcane system. Who or what keeps these people honest? That’s why the national legislative branches have investigatory powers as well as power of the purse.

  5. For transparency purposes, a thorough background investigation should be performed on all three candidates prior to interviews with the mayor and city council not after. Positive and negative information should be presented to all council members. I think that’s what didn’t occur last time.

  6. After the last round, no faith in the process. The Mayor is looking to score PR points, show how progressive he is.

  7. Did the city consider when scheduling the August 4th citizen meet and greet that is the the date for the Edmonds in Bloom 25th anniversary garden party. Many people who provide monetary support for all the plantings and baskets in Edmonds attend this event which has been planned and scheduled for months. Wonder why the city administration would choose this date without looking at a calendar and considering major conflicting events. Would they prefer we don’t attend?

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