Edmonds’ new interim police chief is first woman in charge

Interim Chief Michelle Bennett started her career in Edmonds decades ago. She’ll apply for the permanent job.

Michelle Bennett

Michelle Bennett

EDMONDS — For the first time in the city’s history, a woman is leading the Edmonds Police Department.

Michelle Bennett was named the city’s new interim police chief, Mayor Mike Nelson announced this week. She began her policing career in Edmonds more than 30 years ago. She recently served as police chief for Maple Valley and Sammamish.

“This feels a bit full-circle, as my very first police-related job was for the City of Edmonds as a Police Cadet and I’m so happy to be returning to this community,” Bennett wrote Friday in a message to the community. “I intend to provide this wonderful, diverse group of public servants with a stable platform of leadership and direction while the selection process for the permanent chief takes place. “

Bennett replaces Jim Lawless, the former acting interim police chief who resigned last week to take an assistant police chief job in Marysville.

Lawless worked for the Edmonds department more than 25 years. He began serving as interim chief in 2019. He applied for the permanent position last year when the city began its first search to fill the shoes of longtime Chief Al Compaan, who retired.

The mayor ended up choosing a different candidate for chief, Sherman Pruitt. But Pruitt’s confirmation was reversed because he failed to disclose background information about himself, including an allegation of domestic violence.

As the new interim chief, Bennett will steer a department navigating the fallout of that situation. She will lead the department for up to six months, or until the city concludes a second nationwide search for a permanent chief, whichever comes first, according to city officials.

The department has not yet begun its second search for a chief. That process will begin soon, said Patrick Doherty, the city’s economic development and community services director.

Bennett said she would apply for the permanent job.

“It’s only day two, but right now, absolutely,” she said in a brief interview. “This is a great city. I used to live in this area, so it feels like a homecoming.”

Bennett’s yearly salary is $184,694.

“The opportunities for evolution and transparency in law enforcement are real and I know that this agency has embraced and prepared for them,” Bennett wrote in a memo. “I look forward to meeting many of you as I venture out into this beautiful city.”

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; edennis@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterellen

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