Valued police chief leaves

  • By Yoshiaki Nohara and Katherine Schiffner / Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, June 2, 2004 9:00pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

SNOHOMISH – Rob Sofie, the city’s police chief, well-respected among local law enforcement officials, suddenly left his post Wednesday.

“All I can say is he was terminated at 5 o’clock today,” City Manager Larry Bauman said.

Bauman refused to comment on whether Sofie resigned or was fired and how the city came to the decision. He said the city would likely start recruiting for Sofie’s replacement in July.

Sofie, hired in 1998 to run the 20-officer police department, did not return calls for comment, but was reportedly surprised by Bauman’s decision.

Deputy Police Chief Chuck Macklin was named acting chief Wednesday. Macklin declined to discuss Sofie’s departure.

City Councilman Cameron Bailey said the council was informed of the decision in an executive session Tuesday night.

The decision had nothing to do with the council, Bailey said, referring inquiries to Bauman.

Sofie was known locally and nationally as a skilled chief, said several Snohomish County police chiefs who worked with him.

Sofie, who’d often arrived at the police department at 4 a.m. to work a 12-hour day, held himself and his officers to high standards, Arlington Police Chief John Gray said.

“This has nothing to do with his character or integrity. Rob’s a stickler for high performance,” Gray said, noting that in 2002 the Snohomish Police Department was the first in the state to earn accreditation after the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs toughened its standards. Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori said he often asked Sofie for advice. “He was very professional. A lot of us look up to him,” Celori said.

Sofie also volunteered to evaluate law enforcement agencies trying to earn accreditation in Washington state for WASPC and throughout the nation for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. In Washington, agencies must meet 445 standards to earn accreditation.

“In my opinion, Rob Sofie has been one of the founding fathers of accreditation in this state,” said Bill Curtright, WASPC’s management services coordinator, who’s known Sofie for more than 10 years.

WASPC will continue to use Sofie as a team leader for on-site accreditation visits to law enforcement agencies throughout the state, Curtright said. Sofie’s departure surprised some town residents, but they supported Bauman.

“I don’t have anything personally against Rob Sofie, but he was the wrong man in the job,” said Randy Spoo, a downtown business owner.

Spoo, who was president of the Kla Ha Ya Days committee, said he got the impression that under Sofie’s leadership, officers over-policed the town’s favorite summer festival.

“I thought his approach to police work appeared to be more suited to urban city environment,” Spoo said.

Spoo said he wants to know the circumstances behind Sofie’s departure.

Sue Sullivan, who used to own a business in town, said the police department has become less citizen-friendly since Sofie took the helm.

“Credibility of the police department, with the people I associated with, hasn’t been good,” she said.

She hopes that the police chief’s departure will be a good turning point for the city, Sullivan said.

“I think there needs to be a change, and personally I’m glad to see it,” she said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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