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Sequim hires police chief

Sequim has a new police chief.

Steve Burkett, Sequim city manager, chose William "Bill" Dickinson, 60, as chief saying Dickinson was the best-qualified and fit for Sequim.

"Bill not only has the experience required to excel at the chief's job in Sequim, but more importantly possesses leadership values and an approach to public service that is consistent with my values, standards and expectations," Burkett said.

Dickinson was chosen from 60 candidates and five finalists, including Lt. Sheri Crain, interim chief of police.



Back to the grind

Dickinson's first day is set for Tuesday, Sept. 7.

He has 39 years of experience in criminal justice. He served as chief of police in SeaTac, Burien and Tigard, Ore., and worked for other small police departments and the King County Sheriff's Office.

Dickinson leaves his job as a fraud investigator for Washington's Labor and Industries after one year.

Prior to that, he retired from the Tigard Police Department.

Dickinson said he was too young to retire then and he's excited to join the Sequim Police Department because going back to local enforcement presents the opportunity to make a difference he can see on a day-to-day basis.

"The (Sequim) Police Department has a very good reputation in the law enforcement community, and I have seen that it enjoys excellent support from the community," Dickinson said.

He'll make $93,000 a year, which falls near the middle of the listed $80,00-$106,000 salary with benefits.



Decisions

Burkett said his final choice came down to Dickinson and Crain.

"I am confident that he and Lt. Sheri Crain will form an effective leadership team for the department and earn the trust and respect of the officers and staff," Burkett said.

"Sheri's experience and knowledge of the department and community will complement Bill's experience as a chief in several other cities."

Burkett said one of Dickinson's strengths is that he mentors other police officers to become higher ranking officers.

"(Crain) has a lot of potential to become chief later on," Burkett said.



First exposure

Dickinson and the other finalists met a small group of residents Aug. 5 in the Sequim Transit Center.

Crain complimented Dickinson and the other candidates at the meet-and-greet, saying she'd gladly work with any of them.

The next day, candidates interviewed with panels of police department employees, city of Sequim department heads and Burkett.

"I was amazed by the positive comments I received during my reference checking from others who have worked for and with Bill," Burkett said. "He has definitely left a positive legacy in the other organizations he has served.

"Many of these comments came from city managers and police chiefs that I have worked with previously and whose judgment I trust and respect.

"Bill is respected as one of the top police chiefs in the state, and we are fortunate to attract him to serve the residents of Sequim."

Dickinson said he's fortunate because he likes police work.

"Public service is an important thing and it's an honorable profession," he said.



Longevity

After 39 years in law enforcement, Dickinson said he plans to keep going for at least another six years.

"I intend to finish my law enforcement career in

Sequim," Dickinson said.

"Sequim is a beautiful city. It is an honor for me to cap my law enforcement career both living in and working for the city of Sequim."

Burkett said he's not concerned about Dickinson's longevity and that they discussed a five-year time frame.

"Obviously, I'm confident," Burkett said. "Hopefully he'll be chief of police as long as I'm city manager."



Previous chief

Dickinson succeeds Robert Spinks, who served from 2005 to July 2, 2010.

Burkett released Spinks from his contract about a month after issuing a joint statement about the chief's departure.

The press release seemed cordial, but Spinks said his plan always was to stay in

Sequim.

"Just to clarify, my leaving Sequim Police Department was never my choice, as I have always said, my goal was to eventually retire from the Sequim Police Department years down the road," Spinks said.

Dickinson said he knew little about Spinks' situation and he didn't feel he could comment on it.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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