City releases Edmonds Police Department audit report

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson Monday released a report summarizing the results of an outside Edmonds Police Department audit conducted by Center for Public Safety Management, LLC.

“Taking active steps to modernize our police department is a priority that benefits the entire community,” Nelson said. “This audit was one step to identify where we are already successful and what areas could be improved.”

With newly appointed Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett leading the department, “we are well positioned to move forward with the recommendations,” the mayor added.

It a Monday news release, the city summarized the audit’s key findings and recommendations as follows:

  • The department should continue enhancing recruitment efforts including ensuring that salary compensation for police officers remains comparable to neighboring jurisdictions, maintaining a robust online recruitment presence, and a focus on strategies to hire female officers who are underrepresented in the department.
  • In virtually all police studies conducted by Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), lack of communication is cited as a major organizational impediment. CPSM recommends the new police chief work on improving the department’s communication both up and down in the department.
  • There should be a body-worn camera program for officers in the EPD.
  • The department should give clear direction to sergeants about what violations should be forwarded as an internal complaint investigation and what violations should be referred for counseling.
  • CPSM recommends that uses of force resulting in counseling or coaching be documented, and an explanation as to why the counseling or coaching was necessary.
  • The department should track all informal complaints and analyze them to ensure inappropriate officer behavior is monitored and not overlooked.

“I appreciate the great work conducted by the CPSM auditors focused on our Edmonds Police Department,” Bennett said. “As the auditor states in the full report, we have an amazing department filled with dedicated and professional officers. There were some great suggestions posed in the audit, of which the majority we will work hard to complete. In the last six months, our department has already made great strides towards meeting many of the important recommendations. It’s always good to have an outside view as to what we as a police department can do more effectively or efficiently. We look forward to continuing this important work.”

Bennett reviewed the audit report and has responded with initial items to be implemented or already under consideration based on the CPSM recommendations. Some of these items include:

  • Develop a five-year strategic plan for the EPD starting in 2022
  • After developing policy, negotiating with the union, and negotiating with the Body Camera company, body cameras are part of the 2022 budget requests and are scheduled for the pilot program to begin October 1st, 2021
  • Research the feasibility of extending the hours of the Records Unit for better public access
  • Document use of force counseling and coaching via the purchase of IA Pro/Blue Team software (specialized software for public service agencies)
  • Continue to focus recruitment strategies on hiring females (and BIPOC), who are under-represented in the department
  • Bring back the Citizen’s Police Academy and begin having classes twice a year under the job description of the newly hired Community Engagement Specialist

According to the CPSM report, “these recommendations are intended to form the basis of a long-term improvement plan for the city and department. It is important that we emphasize that this list of recommendations, though lengthy, is common in our operational assessments of agencies around the country.”

You can fin the full CPSM online report here along with the full list of Chief Bennett’s responses here.

  1. Given that the police department is in place to protect the safety of the citizens, how about we just choose the person most qualified for the job? I don’t need my police department to reflect some arbitrary number of male to female, gay to staight, black to white. My concern is safety and protection. I was appalled listening to a city council meeting discussing how to reduce the size of the pie that is the white hetero male. There was no discussion of qualifications, test scores, compatibility with the department, nothing that matters. It does no favors to those being hired or those being served, just those coming up with these cockamamie percentage requirements.

    1. Well said Tamara. Safety and protection should be top of the list. Why do we get so far off the primary police qualifications of the candidate? Yes those other things play a role but they seem to be replacing policeing job qualifications. Are we upside down??

  2. Personally I don’t care what, sex, what color or what someone’s sexual preference…is at all.
    As long as they are good in their hearts and can do there jobs well…that is all we need. So let’s see these Applicants. Thank you. I like these cameras too.

    1. Very well put, and I am in 100% agreement with your opinion! But may I point out one thing that you are probably not aware of? Without going all “PC,” the word “preference” has been used in the past to devalue a person’s innate sexual orientation. Few people view their attractions, the person the go to for comfort and to give comfort to, their lifetime commitment to another, as a mere “preference,” as if I prefer a cheeseburger today, but maybe a hotdog tomorrow. Gay or straight, or all the other shades, are orientations; it’s notable that heterosexuality is rarely referred to as a “preference.”

      Again, I am not accusing – it’s just that the word, which I am sure you used unknowingly – can seem dismissive to those of us who have spent a lifetime trying to achieve full equality and equal dignity.

      Again, I couldn’t agree more with your points!

  3. I have found the current police officers, helpful, hardworking and friendly. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

  4. I applaud the previous efforts and the continued efforts and focus of the Edmonds Police Department to continue to find qualified candidates across all spectrums. The Department has been recognized as one of the leading agencies in diverse hiring practices of qualified and exceptional officers.

  5. Best fit, best qualified based on proven accomplishments; that should be the measure when it comes to safety and protection. Not some political, arbitrary measurement crafted by a temporary politician.

  6. The full audit is available on the EPD website. The audit team did an opening summary and general observations that clearly describe our amazing police force. Much better, in my opinion, than what the mayor chose to pull out of a 176 page report.

  7. I urge all citizens to read the full report, which is included in this article and was released by the Mayor. The shorter version shows the areas that the Chief has responded to. I found both very enlightening. The audit praised our police department, “Employees are dedicated” and highlighted much of what they do. It also referenced “decades of lack of progressiveness.” It appears to be a very thorough audit giving the city and police department a lot of information as they move forward.
    While I support our police and have nothing but praise for our officers out on the street, I would like to see the department more accountable as they spend our tax dollars. As an example, about 2 years ago our department purchased new guns. Buying the guns meant having to buy new ammunition and hours of training for all officers. I believe they are now in the process of buying new guns again. Why? I also understand that a contingent of officers or staff will be travelling out of state to see the body cameras they are interested in purchasing. Again, why? Seems the sellers could come to us and would be much more cost effective. As citizens, most of us live within a budget…would like to see our city and departments do the same.

  8. The PD continues to do a splemdid job.

    What happened to the weekly crime report. It appeared yesterday but not today.? I need it. Thank you.

      1. It would be super great if the community could get some transparency into the Discrimination and Bias Portal as well – how about a weekly report like the Edmonds Police Blotter – I am sure Patrick D and Mayor Mike are all for transparency – it can be anonymous, but it will help the citizens understand better the perspectives and behaviors that are being reported.

        Sort of an educational tool as well as a transparent way to manage a bias and discrimination portal while protecting the innocent and keeping the community abreast of the issues.

        Shouldn’t take a FOIA request to get it, it should be something the citizens should be able to see…

  9. So many respondents refered to “My police” and that they don’t care if the police force is gender or racially balanced.
    Consider that there may be residents of your community to whom it does make a difference whether an officer is the default white male or perhaps someone more relatable to them.

  10. Your feelings of relatability are not pertinant to the issue of law inforcement. Police and Fire personnel are there to protect the people and property. If I had a home invasion I don’t particularly care if the person is warm and fuzzy, I want someone to secure my property and be a good shot if necessary. I don’t choose my Police and Fire like I choose my coffee shop. I want the most qualified candidate, period.

  11. I am concerned with the vulnerabiity of Toyota Tacoma’s catalythic converter since I have 2 in the family. On one day you had five incidents of this item in south Edmonds.

    Some suggestions to the public such as keep your vehicle in a secured garage at night would be helpful.

    And I strongly suspect our outstanding PD is all ready investigating these crimes.

    Ray Martin

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