Mayor Mike Nelson said Thursday that Acting Police Chief Michelle Bennett is his choice for the new chief of the Edmonds Police Department.
“I am excited to announce my selection of Acting Police Chief Michelle Bennett for appointment to the permanent position of Edmonds police chief,” Nelson said. “She exemplifies the kind of leadership our department will thrive under. Since stepping into the role of acting police chief, Ms. Bennett has displayed her community-minded approach to policing that reflects our Edmonds values of safety, care and compassion.”
Bennett was appointed earlier this year to replace Acting Chief Jim Lawless, who left Edmonds for a job with the City of Marysville after serving as acting chief for more than a year. Her selection comes after a several-month search coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), which conducted stakeholder interviews with members of the community and city staff, as well as surveys in the community and among police department staff.
The search was the second of two national searches, which took 19 months and cost nearly $120,000 dollars. The first search sparked a series of combative city council sessions; and led to the nomination last year of Chief Sherman Pruitt of the Sauk-Suiattle Police to be Edmonds’ top cop. But the mayor ended up rescinding the nomination, stating it was because Pruitt didn’t disclose a job application with Lake Stevens police. That led to a relaunch of the search that netted three finalists.
Those candidates were invited to participate in an assessment center in which they completed an analysis presentation, structured interview, and written exercise.
Earlier this month, the mayor met individually with the three finalists, and the Edmonds City Council held publicly accessible interviews via Zoom with each candidate, followed by a public meet-and-greet with the candidates. An online survey was also available for individuals to offer their comments on the candidates.
After considering feedback from all groups, Nelson identified Michelle Bennett as his preferred candidate.
A full background check was completed by Public Safety Testing, which confirmed that Bennett meets all the state requirements, ,Upon successful completion of the background check, Nelson formally announced his selection of Bennett for appointment.
The next step will be to present the appointment and employment contract to the city council for their review and confirmation at the council’s Aug. 24 meeting. Upon confirmation, and according to her employment contract, Bennett will assume the position of permanent police chief as of Sept. 16.
Bennett previously 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, she has taught criminal justice classes since 1998 in local Washington State colleges, as well as for the School of Police Staff and Command for Northwestern University.