Olympia, WA police chief application deadline passes

The Brass Key | October 3, 2010 | Comments (0)

City officials will get their first look this month at applicants to replace Police Chief Gary Michel, who is retiring at the end of the month.

The deadline to apply for the chief’s job was Sept. 30. Executive search firm Waldron & Co. is managing the search for an amount not to exceed $41,432, said city human resources director Cathy Raymond. A new chief is expected to be appointed by the end of November and take office in January.

Michel, the city’s police chief since 1997, announced his retirement in July. He said it was a good time to leave because the department was “in a good place,” getting ready to move into the new City Hall on Fourth Avenue next year. Michel’s salary this year is $140,455.95.

Cmdr. Steve Nelson, a veteran officer, will serve as interim chief beginning next month.

City Manager Steve Hall said he’s looking for a chief who understands community-oriented policing and Olympia’s diverse nature. The successful candidate will inherit a department that has shrunk by several officers in the past decade and has several senior members who will retire soon, Hall said.

“I also am looking for a chief who has real vision about the department for the next five to 10 years,” he said.

Hall has the sole authority to appoint a police chief, but he said he has consulted the public before making a decision. He has met with downtown groups, neighborhood leaders, social-service officials, police leaders and unions, and other area law enforcement agencies, he said. He held a public meeting in August.

Waldron will screen the applicants, check references and provide the names of about 20 top applicants to city officials next month, Raymond said. Then Hall, Raymond and other officials will narrow that.

Hall said he will interview about 10 semifinalists via video conference. Then he will bring three to five candidates to town.

Interviews for those applicants are scheduled for Nov. 4-5, Raymond said. The first day of interviews will be before two panels. One will be a group of police department officials, including union representatives. The second panel will consist of residents Hall has chosen.

“It will reflect downtown interests … business interests, neighborhoods, social services, homeless,” Raymond said.

Later Nov. 4, the City Council and the public can meet the candidates at a reception.

Hall, Raymond and a Waldron representative will interview the applicants Nov. 5, Raymond said.

Next, Hall will narrow the list to one or two and conduct on-site visits to the communities where the candidates now work.

Hall said he’s looking for a chief to build on the accomplishments of Michel, whom Hall praised for creating partnerships with residents and training officers on how to deal with mentally ill people.

“I think Gary Michel’s done a fabulous job for the city,” he said.
Source: Matt Batcheldor, The Olympian

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