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Town follows thorough vetting process for police

Letter to the Editor


Relating to Coulee Dam police chiefs and officers, prior to the current administration, the “process” was relaxed and lacking under the civil service procedures. And, yes, it might be more expedient. However, Washington state law (RCW chapters 35 and 41) and case-determinations govern and/or limit certain authority under the Civil Service processes … and for good reason! As well, I value a civil service board and/or a procedure under policy. This board prohibits a mayor, council member(s), or a committee to just hire a brother or sister, a spouse, a good buddy, an uncle or aunt, and/or otherwise “unqualified” applicants. I trust the board and mayor’s procedures for qualifications, competitiveness, and fairness.

Recently a letter to the editor asked why the mayor did not hire a certain “qualified” applicant. Please understand the procedures and processes: Except for interim and reserve officers, we advertise for police officers (including a chief). Those applicants are referred to the Civil Service Board. When we have openings for new officers, the board subsequently vets through a process including testing for applicants, reviews and scores them. If those applicant candidates are qualified, three are presented to the mayor for his process and decision(s).

And that’s not the end of it! When it comes selecting a chief, we are thorough and particular. Typically (though not required), the mayor’s process and interview team includes the mayor, a town councilmember, an outside sworn chief or officer, the town’s underwriter agent, and sometimes a citizen at hand. Additionally, we often include the Civil Service Board chair and a second town councilmember as an “observer.” Often, the top three candidates are ranked or otherwise left for the mayor under the statute authority to hire accordingly as he may feel fit.

From that point, the mayor usually hires a qualified consultant to perform a background analysis, including a criminal history, fiscal history, employment references & history, medical records, polygraph and psychological examinations, general references, etc.  And often our first, second, or even third finalist don’t get through the backgrounds and we have to start all over again!

So back to the question(s): I offer no apology by working through a comprehensive process. and for obvious reasons. And we always welcome qualified applicants … be they from “North Bend” or otherwise.


F. Gregory Wilder

Mayor of Coulee Dam

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