After a two-year search and a prospect backing out, Olympia City Manager Jay Burney appointed Interim Police Chief Rich Allen the city’s permanent head of the city’s police department today.
“What we learned is we have that leader right here in Olympia,” Burney announced in a press release, adding that Allen initially did not apply for the post that had several “twists and turns,” as Burney described it, such as initial prospect former Syracuse, New York Police Chief Kenton Buckner withdrawing his application.
“We looked across the nation for the best, most qualified law enforcement leaders at a moment in time when recruiting such leaders was particularly difficult,” said Burney.
According to the city, Allen’s 30-year career in law enforcement started with him as a 15-year-old volunteer in the city police’s Police Explorers program. He moved on to serve professionally as a patrol officer, training officer, motorcycle officer and detective, rising through the ranks to Deputy Chief.
Allen is an FBI National Academy graduate with an Executive Level Certification from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Olympia appointed Allen interim chief of police in October last year after Aaron Jelcick who held the post from December 2019 to September 2021. The city’s last appointed chief of police was Ronnie Roberts who retired in December 2019.
“I’m humbled and honored by the City Manager’s appointment,” Allen said. “I appreciate the confidence he has shown in me, and the support I have received from the members of the department and the City’s executive staff.”
“I watched him (Allen), as interim, do and support innovative work in the Department,” remarked Burney. “I saw that he was a confident, smart, innovative, humble leader, who defaulted to and modeled the transparency and openness we are seeking.”
Burney also said that conversations with the community and the Department showed a need for “a chief who would bring a new perspective; whose natural default was to openness, transparency, and accountability; and who embraced reimagining public safety."
The city will host a virtual town hall on 6 p.m. June 28, Thursday, for Allen to discuss his plans for the 110-strong police department as well as answer community members’ questions.
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