Bremerton’s city council was expected to approve a contract this week with former King County Sheriff Steve Strachan to make him the city’s new chief of police.
Mayor Patty Lent briefed the council Monday, following Strachan’s acceptance of her offer. She told the council it was a choice, she emphasized, that came following unanimous recommendations by a wide range of panelists that interviewed Strachan and four other finalists throughout an entire day last week. Pending council approval, Strachan (pronounced Stran) could start work as early as next week.
City Councilman Jim McDonald, who sat on the interview panels, spoke highly of the sessions and the outcome.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a process where so many people were involved and everybody was so sure that this was the right person for the job,” McDonald said.
Strachan, too, praised the process, noting that it gave him several opportunities to interact with line officers and command staff. He said that he didn’t apply for many other jobs because “Bremerton is on the upswing” and the department is in “pretty good shape and headed in the right direction.” He also spoke about his excitement to get back in charge of a municipal police force.
“I really like being a chief,” he said by phone while out of town this week on a pre-planned trip. “I’m really proud to be in law enforcement and excited about getting to work in Bremerton.”
Strachan said that the advantage to being a chief, rather than a sheriff in a large county, is that things are somewhat more defined geographically and, in a sense, easier to monitor and manage.
“It’s easier to connect with the community, civic groups and residents,” he said.
Strachan and his wife, who works as an attorney in Seattle, are now living in south King County but are exploring a possible move to this side of the water.
Lent said that after some negotiation, his salary was set at just over $138,000. Chief Craig Rogers, who retires this week after 37 years of service with BPD, including seven years a chief, was making a little over $141,000 per year.
Strachan is already bringing cultural changes to the city’s police force by not asking the city for a vehicle, Lent said. Instead, he will receive a $350 monthly stipend to drive his own car, a figure that Lent said is comparably low. She told the council, for example, that the executive director of Kitsap Transit gets a $450 stipend for his personal vehicle.
Strachan took over as King County Sheriff when Sue Rahr stepped down in April 2012. He lost his bid for election to current Sheriff John Urquhart in November. Prior to joining the sheriff’s office he was the chief of police in Kent.
Others that applied for the Bremerton police chief job included Jefferson County Sheriff Anthony Hernandez, Washington State Patrol Capt. Robert Johnson, former Santa Paula, Calif., Chief Stephen MacKinnon and WSP Capt. Stephen Sutton.