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Snohomish Police chief swear-in paused for further negotiation with sheriff's office

SNOHOMISH — The interim police chief position currently held by Captain Robert Palmer will be extended beyond the 90-day period.
Mayor John Kartak and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office requested to designate interim Chief Palmer as the permanent police chief for the remainder of the contract with the sheriff’s office for police services. The City Council last week did not approve the designation and requested further deliberation.
Approving the contract change would require the city to increase its annual police budget by $30,000 in order to pay Palmer a captain’s salary throughout the 16 months remaining in the contract.
Mayor Kartak and Sheriff Adam Fortney were prepared to swear in Palmer as the permanent police chief at the meeting.
The council was uncomfortable with language changes in the contract drawn up by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
The contract would need to be amended to accommodate for the fact a captain is filling the role of chief when the position is typically only open for lieutenants, who are paid a lower salary.
Council members noticed that while there was a change in language to accommodate for a captain, there were also sections missing that allowed the city to have input when deciding on a chief. The lack of that language would relinquish any power the city has when approving a future chief to the sheriff’s office.
The council discussed possible contract revisions that will be given to the sheriff’s office for further negotiation. The council wants to retain the ability to have a choice in who the police chief is in the future.
The majority of the public who made comments during the meeting were also against immediate approval because they felt $30,000 could be used better elsewhere in the city.
State Representative candidate John Lovick, a former county sheriff, made a comment praising Palmer, stating he would serve the city of Snohomish well in the role of chief.
Although the character of Palmer and his expansive ability to lead is in high regard by many council members as well as the Mayor, some said they have yet to meet Palmer in person and want to have that opportunity before approving the designation.
Palmer will continue to fill the interim position until the council decides on the matter. The city has been paying Palmer a captain’s salary and will continue to honor that through the extension of the interim period.
After the contract additions have been drafted and approved by the council, the city will request approval from the sheriff’s office.
The council’s next regular meeting is Sept. 15.


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