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Former Federal Way police chief Anne Kirkpatrick applies for Seattle post

Anne Kirkpatrick, shown in 2005 while with the Federal Way Police Department - File photo
Anne Kirkpatrick, shown in 2005 while with the Federal Way Police Department
— image credit: File photo

Former Federal Way police chief Anne Kirkpatrick is looking to advance her career and make history.

The Spokane police chief announced Feb. 11 she will apply for the chief's position with the Seattle Police Department. The spot was vacated in 2009 by Gil Kerlikowske, who became President Barack Obama's drug czar. If Kirkpatrick lands the job, she'll become Seattle's first female chief of police.

In mid-January, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn formed the 26-member Seattle Police Chief Search Committee to find Kerlikowske's replacement. A search firm was hired to recruit candidates. On Feb. 10, Seattle began hearing public comments about what residents wish to see in their new police chief. The city anticipates attracting the best of the best.

"We expect a large number of applicants from all over the country," said Mark Matassa, McGinn's communications director.

Kirkpatrick is the second person to officially announce she will apply for the coveted chief of police job. Interim Police Chief John Diaz has said he will apply. Others within the department may also be interested in the position, Matassa said.

Kirkpatrick informed Spokane's top leaders of her decision via a written statement issued by police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe, according to The Seattle Times. Kirkpatrick will not comment further on her decision in respect for Seattle's selection process, according to The Times.

Her interest in the position does not come as a complete surprise.

"There had been speculations that she'd apply and people were talking about it," Matassa said.

A move to Seattle would be an accomplishment for Kirkpatrick, who advanced quickly in her career. She began in law enforcement with the Memphis Police Department. She was employed by the Redmond Police Department from 1987 to 1996. In 1993, she progressed from an officer to a sergeant.

"She's very highly thought of here," Redmond police spokesman Jim Bove said. "It doesn't surprise anyone that she would be thought of for the job."

Kirkpatrick is no stranger to settling in as police chief. After Redmond, she continued to move up in rank, becoming Ellensburg's police chief. In 2001, she made the jump to Federal Way.

Kirkpatrick was Federal Way's second chief. She was chosen by former city manager David Moseley in 2000. She replaced Ron Wood, who was the first city-hired police employee following Federal Way's 1996 break from King County and the subsequent creation of its own police force. Wood retired for undisclosed reasons in July 2000. Kirkpatrick remained at the top of the force until 2006, when she applied to Spokane.

Former Spokane mayor Dennis Hession is quoted as saying in a 2006 Spokesman-Review article, "We're hiring her for her strong leadership and her outstanding community presence. We expect her to put her personal mark on this department, ensure a positive direction that both incorporates the community's concerns and message and respects the quality of our police force."

Spokane city council member Joe Shogan said Friday that Kirkpatrick has been an effective chief. She would not be recruited for high-profile positions if she were not good at what she does, he said.

"I have a lot of respect for her," Shogan said. "I have admired her honesty, her integrity, her work ethic, her determination and her civic mindedness," he said.

But on the way to the top, Kirkpatrick's desire to further her career has caused concern. Former Spokane City Council member Al French took issue when he learned Kirkpatrick would lead the city's police department as the first female chief of police. French worried Kirkpatrick was more interested in making a name for herself than in making Spokane her home, according to the Spokesman-Review article.

French was quoted as saying, "It's just a matter of time until there's a better job."

In speaking with staff at The Mirror prior to accepting the Spokane job, Kirkpatrick said the tradition of climbing the ladder to a chief's position within a specific department and then remaining with the department for a long period of time is no longer common.

It will not be known if Kirkpatrick landed the Seattle job until this summer. The number of candidates will be narrowed by the search firm to between 15 and 20, Matassa said. In May, the Seattle Police Chief Search Committee will choose three finalists. In June, McGinn will choose, from among the finalists, an individual for the chief's position. His recommendation must be confirmed by Seattle City Council.

Check it out

Follow Seattle's search for a new chief online at seattle.gov/mayor/spdchiefsearch.

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