Meet Kirkland's new Chief of Police, Eric Olsen. I always thought it sounded so cool to have the title "Chief" or "Commander" come before your name- doesn't every kid dream of that? Chief Olsen has earned this honorable promotion from Captain with 25+ years of service in policing. He's not big on titles though (I just think of myself as "Eric the cop"), he's focused on being accessible and creating a greater collaboration between the police dept and our community. And he must be true to his word, because he was willing to sit down at lunch with a Kirkland blogger to tell me what's up. He was probably kicking himself when my first question was, "Who's your biggest baddest ticket-writing cop that I should be shaking in boots for when he pulls me over?" It's about public safety. Not ticket-writing. Darn, I knew that.
As we sat at a table outside at The Slip, despite not being in uniform on that day, he's got the cop vibe. You probably don't know this, but I also sell tactical equipment part-time, so I know the cop vibe. The one where he's constantly and calmly scanning his surroundings for any notion of danger or suspicion. Luckily, we were safely tucked behind the plastic fence.
Chief Olsen grew up in West Africa and went to high school and college in Minnesota. Apparently his wife wasn't too keen when he told her he wanted to be a police officer. But she must have gotten used to the idea, because they live happily in Snohomish with their 14 year old triplets - two boys and a girl(Eric is a twin himself!). He enjoys living in Snohomish and it also allows him to separate his personal life from his work.
"Kirkland is a great place with great people," says Eric, "and I try to encourage our officers to get out of their cars and get to know the neighbors and business people." He also stresses the importance of public safety and mentions how often crimes are solved when citizens call in suspicious activity or felt like something just wasn't right. Don't hesitate to call. And if you'd like to be on the receiving end of that call, Kirkland PD is also hiring. There are at least 5 open headcount for officers and if (who are we kidding- when) annexation happens, we'll need an additional 44 officers. That's a lot of blue. And while we're on the annexation topic, I was asking about the proposed new jail which still nobody seems to know the location of, but he did confirm the need for a 75 bed jail if we annex. Right now we have 4 cells that hold 12-16 people and we can rest easy b/c no-one has ever escaped! Airtight- minus the ceiling ducts, of course!
To net it out, our new Chief is a down-to-earth guy and he's got his listening ears on. And he's funny too. When asked which Kirkland restaurant is his favorite he responded, "I'm a big guy, I like them all." Fresh in his new office and so PC! If you see him around, be sure to introduce yourself. He can also be reached at 425-587-3403 or firstname.lastname@example.org . ~Janis