PORT TOWNSEND — The City of Port Townsend has selected the deputy chief of the University of Washington Police Department as the municipality’s next chief, City Manager John Mauro said.
Thomas Olson is expected to take over by May 3 from Interim Police Chief Troy Surber, Mauro said in a press release Thursday.
The final offer is contingent on Olson passing a background check, polygraph, medical exam and psychological exam, the release said.
“Positive progress through those steps, including the preliminary background check, has given the City confidence to make a public announcement about his identity,” Mauro said in the release.
Olson has 32 years of law enforcement experience between the UW department and the State Patrol, according to the release.
“I’m thrilled to announce that after our extensive search for the highest quality, experienced and deeply collaborative Police Chief, we’ve been successful in finding Mr. Olson,” Mauro said in the release.
“Thomas has an impeccable track record in law enforcement and a deep desire to be in Port Townsend.”
Mauro said Thomas stood out from a field of more than 30 candidates “right from the start of a long interview process.”
He distinguished himself not only by his qualifications, but also by his “absolutely thorough research into Port Townsend, including efforts to meet and learn from community leaders, our interim chief and the police team,” Mauro said.
“It’s clear he’s a fantastic fit for our community. Thomas is a leader of integrity, diplomacy, self-awareness and a huge commitment to service.”
Olson said he feels “honored and blessed” to be selected.
“Over past few months I had the opportunity to meet many members of the Port Townsend community,” he said in the release.
“Everyone that I met was easy to talk to and made me feel like I was already a member of the community. The more people that I talked to, the more I knew this was where I wanted to live, work, and raise my children,” he continued.
“I will engage and listen and make sure the Police Department is inclusive of all community members and is providing the service the community deserves, wants and expects,” he promised. “It is my goal to build relationships rooted in trust and transparency with the many community groups in and around Port Townsend.
“I’ve seen first-hand the amazing things that can be accomplished when police and the community work together,” Olson said, adding he is strong advocate of community policing.
Surber has served for more than a year as interim chief of police. After a total of 24 years of service, he plans to retire when Olson begins work.
“I love this community and it’s been a real privilege and honor to serve as chief, particularly during this very difficult last year,” Surber said.
“It was a singular mission of mine to prepare for the next chief and be part of the selection process. I’m very excited to welcome Thomas Olson. We’ve done well to attract this level of talent, and I’m very confident to say to the community that I’m handing over the reigns to the right person.”
In addition to his law enforcement experience, Olson also is a former Senior Master Sergeant of the Washington Air National Guard, and he also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and the Air Force, the release said.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]