LYNNWOOD – Lynnwood Police Chief Steve Jensen is hopeful his officers will be able to move on now that former Deputy Chief Paul Watkins has admitted to stealing money seized during criminal investigations.
Watkins, 50, was fired last week. On Nov. 16 he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of theft and admitted concealing his wrongdoing for years.
Watkins tried to resign from the police department five days later.
“I hope and pray that my legacy is not that of scandal but one of dedicated service to the City of Lynnwood and to the men and women with whom I proudly served,” Watkins said in his resignation letter.
Jensen opted to fire Watkins that same day.
“It is hoped that with the rendering of his guilty plea that this matter will soon be brought to finality,” Jensen said today at a press conference. “It is clear that the men and woman of the department will continue to provide effective and quality police services to our community.”
Watkins was well-liked, respected and highly though of by fellow officers, other police departments and people in the community. Jensen said it came as a shock that he would steal from the department. Watkins had worked his way up the ranks in the 24 years he was with Lynnwood.
“The Lynnwood Police Department has been saddened and extremely troubled by the actions of Mr. Watkins. We are also cognizant of the damage that Mr. Watkins’ actions have inflicted on the members of his family and his friends.”
Watkins pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars in cash seized from criminal investigations over several years. Jensen asked FBI agents to investigate the theft allegations after he learned that Watkins had signed for some evidence seized in a 1996 robbery investigation and then claimed it disappeared. More than $14,000, guns and cocaine were missing. Investigators located one of the guns at Watkins’ Everett-area home last month.
Watkins was seen throwing out numerous bags of shredded documents hours before FBI agents searched his house. The FBI continues to investigate who may have tipped him off, Assistant Special Agent In Charge Steven Dean said today.