Lawless won’t seek permanent police chief job in Edmonds

The interim chief says the city needs to move on from the controversy of last year’s hiring process.

Jim Lawless

Jim Lawless

EDMONDS — Acting Chief of Police Jim Lawless will not apply again to be the permanent top cop in Edmonds, he announced Thursday.

Lawless, who has spent more than 25 years with the department, was appointed to the interim position in December 2019, when longtime Chief Al Compaan retired.

“I will forever be grateful that for the past year plus, I have had the honor and privilege to lead the amazing women and men of this regionally respected law enforcement agency,” Lawless said in a statement around 5 p.m. Thursday. “However, I will not again apply to be the permanent chief of police and I accept that it was not meant to be.”

He was named a finalist in the city’s search to replace Compaan, but Mayor Mike Nelson instead appointed Sherman Pruitt, chief of police for the Sauk-Suiattle tribe near Arlington.

Pruitt was confirmed in a contentious 4-3 vote, but afterward, city staff discovered that he had omitted key details about his past that disqualified him from taking the position.

Now, with Lawless still serving as the interim chief, the mayor is beginning a second search.

“I ask that we all move beyond the recent events and focus on what is to come,” Lawless said. “No matter where you have stood on this issue, your police department needs a nationwide pool of qualified law enforcement leaders from which to choose your next chief of police.”

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