The City of Olympia will postpone its search for a new Police Chief until the completion of the City’s Reimagining Public Safety process. The search was originally paused on March 26 following the withdrawal of one of the final four candidates after City Manager Jay Burney became aware of news coverage of a past use-of-force incident in another state by that candidate. Burney anticipates restarting the search closer to the end of 2021.
The Reimaging Public Safety process will use a Participatory Leadership approach which involves wide community engagement. Burney had hoped that the new Police Chief would be on board in time to fully take part in the “Reimaging” process as a listener and subject matter expert.
“I had a robust conversation with community members and OPD employees about what we needed in our next Police Chief, and I used that information to helps shape this recruitment effort,” said Burney. “While I’m disappointed to have to postpone the search, waiting until the Reimagining Public Safety process is complete makes the most sense in terms of timing, and it will allow more community voices and perspectives from this process to be considered before we relaunch the search.”
When the search relaunches in late 2021, it will go forward with a new search firm. However, the City will hold the applications of the current final candidates and invite them to remain in the process without the need to reapply. Burney will stay in contact with the finalists regarding their continued interest in the position.
In the meantime, Interim Police Chief Aaron Jelcick will continue to lead the Olympia Police Department.