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Kirkland News Room

Kirkland’s Police Chief Eric Olsen announces retirement

Eric Olsen retires Sept. 30 after 27 years with Kirkland Police Department

Contact: Marilynne Beard, Deputy City Manager
City Manager’s Office

Chief Eric Olsen 2008 - BKIRKLAND, Wash. – City of Kirkland’s Police Chief Eric Olsen has announced his plans to retire from the department as of September 30, 2015.  Olsen is a 27-year veteran of the Kirkland Police Department and was sworn in as Chief in 2007. Olsen leads a full service department of 98 sworn officers and 38 civilian personnel who serve in the Patrol, Detectives and Traffic Units, Special Response Team, Crisis Negotiations Team, Major Investigations Response Team, K-9 Unit, Crime Analysis, Records Division, Parking Enforcement, Training Division, Family Violence Prevention Unit and Corrections. The Department was first accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs in 1999 and is re-accredited every four years; most recently in 2011. 

“Chief Olsen has created a culture of integrity within the Kirkland Police Department that has rightfully earned him and his organization the respect of the City Council, City organization, community and other law enforcement agencies,” says Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen. “He has returned that respect with confidence, leadership, and a calmness that makes you always feel safe.”

Olsen began his career with KPD in 1988 as a patrol officer when Kirkland’s population was less than 36,000. Olsen then worked his way up through the ranks, beginning as a patrol corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and then chief. Four years after being promoted to Chief, he became responsible for policing a larger city of 81,000 following the annexation of the Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate neighborhoods which welcomed 31,000 new residents.

“In looking back on my 33-year law enforcement career, I have had the fortune to hold just about every position a commissioned officer could have within a department and to have had the opportunity to work regionally, statewide and nationally on law enforcement issues that don’t just affect Kirkland,” notes Chief Olsen. “These experiences have allowed me to lead a tremendously dedicated, committed and supportive department.”

Olsen stated that the business of providing public safety to the community has changed over the course of his career.  Today’s officers are faced with many challenges such as rapidly evolving technology, complex laws, and high public expectations for being transparent and accountable to the community. 

From 2015 to 2016, Olsen served as President of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and has served on its Executive Board since 2010. In 2012 Olsen received the Professional of the Year Award from Crown College (Minneapolis, MN) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history.  He received an Associate Degree in law enforcement from Normandale Community College (Bloomington, MN) and later received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington.  He is a member of several law enforcement associations including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the King County Police Chief’s Association.  He is a graduate of the F.B.I. Academy and the Senior Police Management Institute for Police. 

“Under Chief Olsen’s leadership, a high standard of responsiveness has been an integral part of the Department’s commitment to community policing,” notes Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet, and Chair of Council Public Safety Committee. “He is the ‘heart and soul’ of the finest police department in the State.”

One project Chief Olsen presented in response to the Public Safety Committee’s desire to provide crime data to Kirkland residents was “Crime Mapping,” a web-based tool that provides recent crime activity within a specified area.

“One of Chief Olsen’s greatest attributes is how he considers the perspectives of both citizens and officers to arrive at the best solution to a problem,” adds City Council Member Dave Asher and member of the Public Safety Committee. “His is a level-headed leader who deftly managed the development of the Kirkland Justice Center while dramatically growing the department to serve the larger city.”

“Chief Olsen’s retirement has been well earned,” said City Manager Kurt Triplett.  “Eric Olsen has given decades of service to the residents of Kirkland and has been an outstanding Chief.  He has led the KPD through some of the biggest transitions in the department’s history including the Great Recession and the growing pains of serving 31,000 new residents. Chief Olsen was a champion of the new Kirkland Justice Center with the expanded jail and lead-free firing range.  He set a high bar for the next Chief with his experience, talents and leadership. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Eric.  He will be sorely missed.”

City Manager Triplett and Deputy City Manager Marilynne Beard will spend the next few weeks working with a cross-section of the Police Department to develop a transition plan and a hiring process for replacing the Police Chief. (07.02.15)