Edmonds mayor picks Sherman Pruitt to be next police chief

He currently serves as chief of police for the Sauk-Suiattle Police Department near Darrington.

Sherman Pruitt

Sherman Pruitt

EDMONDS — Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson has chosen Sherman Pruitt to be the next chief of police, the city announced Thursday.

Pruitt had been serving as police chief for the Sauk-Suiattle Police Department near Darrington. The city council is to vote on his confirmation Dec. 15.

“In order to be effective and best serve our citizens, our police department must balance consistency and predictability with adaptation and change,” Nelson said in a news release. “This changing police environment is one we must be able to adapt to quickly, and I believe Sherman Pruitt is the best person for this task.”

The choice is something of a reversal. In April, Nelson announced he would nominate Jim Lawless, a 25-year veteran of the department who served as interim chief, for the permanent position. The search for outside candidates was paused due to the pandemic.

But city code requires the mayor to interview more than one person before making an appointment. Nelson asked the city council to waive that requirement, but members voted 4-3 against the motion. In the end, the mayor chose an outside candidate.

Pruitt has worked in law enforcement for 14 years, including as chief of police for the Tulalip Tribes. He also has served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Washington Air National Guard. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and has received extensive training through leadership programs, the city said in a news release.

“He is described by his colleagues as an engaging leader with high emotional intelligence who does not shy away from doing the hard work, and whose integrity, honesty, and accountability are beyond reproach,” Nelson said. “He has established close ties to the communities he has served and has a history of reaching out to and connecting with all members of those communities. His willingness to listen, and his compassion and caring for others came through clearly during the interview process.”

The salary range for chief of police is between $135,000 and $181,000, city Human Resources Director Jessica Neill Hoyson said in an email.

Former Chief Al Compaan retired at the end of 2019. The search to replace him has taken nearly a year.

In October, the mayor announced that out of 16 applicants, he selected Lawless and Pruitt to be considered for the position. The process was jolted during an online candidate forum which was hijacked. Pruitt, a person of color, was interrupted three times, with users displaying pornographic and racist images as well as someone saying, “Shut up, you pig.”

After the meeting, the city contacted the FBI to help track the hijackers, Nelson said.

“I have directed our Police Department to investigate this as a crime,” he said in a statement, “and bring to light who this pathetic offender is.”

In Thursday’s statement, Nelson said he hopes Lawless will stay with the department as an assistant chief.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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