Fort Worth

Washington woman ‘strict’ chief candidate

Anne Kirkpatrick
Anne Kirkpatrick Courtesy

Chief candidate Anne Kirkpatrick, who has called herself “strict,” gets praise for her leadership skills, and freely admits she had a difficult relationship with the police guild when she was chief in Spokane, Wash., where she retired in 2012.

“That strain existed because of a conflict of values,” Kirkpatrick said Tuesday, noting that popular officers were charged, indicted and sentenced during her tenure. “I will stand behind my officers, but I will not tolerate egregious officer misconduct.”

Kirkpatrick, 56, is currently an instructor with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association in the Seattle area, a position she has held since last year. The group provides leadership and management training to top law enforcement officials in local departments.

The Memphis, Tenn. native began her career as a patrol officer in Memphis, moved to Washington to be a patrol officer and sergeant in Redmond, Wash., and was police chief in Ellensburg, Wash., and Federal Way, Wash. She was the first woman to be hired as police chief in each of those cities.

Kirkpatrick, 56, described herself as strict when she was a candidate for chief in Federal Way, Wash., where Mayor Dennis Hession said she displayed “strong leadership.”

Her advancement in law enforcement continued in Spokane, where she was appointed chief in 2006, becoming the first woman to head that police department.

The department was engulfed in controversy when she arrived, including an officer’s fatal struggle with a man named Otto Zehm in 2006. Zehm died after he was beaten and years later a Spokane officer was convicted and sentenced to 51 months in prison.

Kirkpatrick and the Spokane Police Guild had a tumultuous relationship as she attempted police reform and high-profile disciplinary actions that were overturned in court many times, according to news accounts from the Spokane area

A Washington city official said she was more interested in building her career than establishing roots in one city, according to reports by the Seattle Times and Spokesman Review newspapers.

In 2010, while still chief in Spokane, she was a semifinalist for Seattle’s chief of police.

She retired from Spokane in 2012, and was at the top of the list for a position at the King County Sheriff’s Office in Seattle.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart said he picked Kirkpatrick as deputy chief because of her decades of law enforcement experience – as chief of Ellensburg, Federal Way and Spokane – and because she’s focused on police reform issues. He said that Kirkpatrick gained experience working with the Department of Justice when the agency investigated Spokane police.

“Anne Kirkpatrick has the experience and credentials every city in the country looks for in its police chief,” Urquhart wrote in a 2012 news release.

Kirkpatrick said she was recruited to apply for the job in Fort Worth.

“Fort Worth caught my eye because it fit me,” she said. “I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to be a candidate.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

Background in brief

Education: bachelor of arts in business administration and management at King College ; master’s degree in counseling psychology at Memphis State University; doctor of law at Seattle University School of Law.

Previous positions: patrol officer Memphis Police Department; patrol officer, sergeant at Redmond Police Department, Redmond, Wash.; police chief Ellensburg Police Department, Ellensburg, Wash.; police chief Federal Way Police Department, Federal Way, Wash.; police chief Spokane Police Department, Spokane, Wash.; she was a deputy chief for King County Sheriff’s Office; currently an instructor with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association in the Seattle area.