Mayor Nelson names Acting Chief Michelle Bennett as his pick for new police chief

Michelle Bennett

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.

  1. This is an excellent pick! I have met with Chief Bennett and found her to be engaging, bright and caring. She has an outstanding leadership background and is committed to ensuring public safety while being open to modification of police procedures to be sensitive to equity.

  2. Excellent news!!! Chief Bennet is an amazing leader and has shown repeatedly how committed she is to the Edmonds Police Department and the community. Great pick Mayor

  3. Good pick, but one more reason to “Drop the Mike”. We spent $120,000 on a national search when the best candidate was in our proverbial backyard.

  4. Congratulations to Chief Bennett and the amazing women and men of the Edmonds Police Department. The department, City and Community will be well served!

    1. Well I liked you. I liked our police force always. I honestly don’t know but I Congratulate Chief Bennet. She I have no doubt is nice, I like her personality. She seems fun, compassionate, nurturing as well as bold and firm. Appears open, yet has a mind of her own. All of this I admire.
      So as long as my self sacrificing police force is taken care of well. I will be happy.
      Good luck Michelle. Deb.

  5. The candidates brought forth by the International Association of Chiefs of Police were exceptionally qualified, each in their own way. That said, the appointment of Chief Bennett is the right choice for our community, one I believe we can all support. We look forward to Chief Bennett’s leadership of the Department; and her engagement with the community. The search is over, and Edmonds can move forward. Congratulations, Chief Bennett!

  6. I happily join in cheering the selection of Michelle Bennett as our new Chief of Police. She is exceptionally well qualified for the position, and she’s a good fit, really an excellent fit for the City of Edmonds. I’m confident she will serve us well during these difficult times for law enforcement.

    It’s been 20 months since Chief Campaan announced his retirement; we’ve waited quite long enough to install a new permanent chief. I hope our elected officials have learned from the problems last year that caused the process to drag out so long.

  7. Chief Bennett is an excellent choice to lead the Edmonds Police Department. I appreciate that this selection was made using a formal process that included an opportunity for public input and involvement. I have personally met with each of the three final candidates, Lawrence Hunter, Dante Orlandi, and Michelle Bennett and each candidate brings an exceptional amount of experience and qualifications to the job in his or her own way. However, I was very impressed with Chief Bennett’s diverse and rich experiences in the field, and most importantly, her passion and commitment to the Edmonds Police Department and our community. Great pick, Mayor Nelson. — By Will Chen

  8. Congratulations to Chief Bennet. Excellent news for the City. It appears the Mayor made the right choice. The process was rocky but the outcome is outstanding.

  9. Let’s hope the third time is the charm. Assuming the Gang of Four on the Council approves this choice, then congratulations to Chief Bennett. She is a quality choice for the future of Edmonds. Too bad it took $120,000. Of Taxpayer money to find the candidate next door.

  10. Excellent choice. She has been quick to respond personally to concerns I’ve raised in the recent past.

  11. Congratulations to Chief Bennett. Having met with her multiple times, and after also speaking with the other very qualified candidates, I believe Mayor Nelson made the best choice. Chief Bennett will do a superb job serving Edmonds and heading our police department. Edmonds is lucky to have such a great leader in our community.

  12. A nationwide search? Why we continue to do this when it’s obvious that the best candidate was already here. I’ll give you a tip in the future. Save your money mayor

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