By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published June 17, 2020
New police chief assigned to Snohomish
|Captain Rob Palmer, Snohomish's new police chief
SNOHOMISH — The sheriff’s office placed Captain Rob Palmer as the city’s interim police chief, effective immediately, on Monday, June 8, taking over for Lt. Keith Rogers.
Rogers was still working with the Snohomish Police Department to assist with the transition, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Courtney O’Keefe said June 11. Once the transition is complete, Rogers will provisionally fill Palmer’s role in overseeing patrol operations and working with cities that contract for police service, except for Snohomish because of the unique circumstances, O’Keefe said.
Palmer’s interim position as chief is until early September.
He lives in Snohomish and his children graduated from Snohomish Schools, the sheriff’s office said.
Palmer’s higher rank could prevent him from taking the chief’s role permanently: Snohomish’s contract with the sheriff’s office calls for a lieutenant to run the Police Department.
A discussion on transitioning chiefs was happening months prior, though, O’Keefe said, because Rogers is eligible to be promoted to captain.
The events on First Street Sunday, May 31 accelerated Rogers’ departure.
The conversation on reassigning Rogers happened between Rogers, Sheriff Adam Fortney and the city, O’Keefe said. Rogers “was in agreement (changing chiefs) was the right decision,” O’Keefe said.
Rogers faced public calls to resign. Public criticism intensified after Rogers described that the scene on First Street looked “festive” in response to a question at a City Council meeting. He was speaking to what he saw on a May 31 walk-through before the incident command post shut down, which O’Keefe said was around 8 p.m.
“I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to the crowd, but I wanted to get my own assessment of what was occurring there.
“It looked very festive.
“There was tailgating, there appeared to be tailgating.
“Of course, there was a lot of people expressing their various rights …But a lot of celebratory-type pleasantries were exchanged. There was no really harsh terms, anything like that. It looked similar to what I’d see at the start of a parade. People were just kind of camped out.”
A group of militia-style armed guards arrived on First Street at 7 p.m.
Rogers has not been reprimanded, and is not subject to a possible future reprimand, for anything relating to Sunday, May 31, O’Keefe said.
“At this moment in time, I believe reassigning Lt. Rogers is in the best interest of our community and our agency,” Sheriff Adam Fortney said in a news release issued jointly by the city and the sheriff’s office.
The announcement Snohomish changed police chiefs went out the afternoon of Monday, June 8 after last week’s June 10 Tribune finished going to press.
New interim chief Palmer has a 32-year career in law enforcement. His resume with the sheriff’s office includes work as the Investigations Division Commander, as the Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit Commander and as South Precinct Commander.
Chief Palmer will report directly to the Operations Bureau Chief, O’Keefe said.
The previous sheriff selected Rogers as Snohomish’s police chief in September 2017 when past chief John Flood rose to captain and was reassigned within the sheriff’s office. Rogers had a key role in the multi-agency Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force before being assigned police chief.
The city disbanded its independently run police department at the end of 2011 to have the department managed by the sheriff’s office as a contracted service. City officials went to the contract model partially as a cost-saving measure during the depths of the Recession.
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