Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg this week announced that he has selected to appoint Eric Drever as Tukwila Police Chief.
Drever was chosen by the Mayor over one other finalist for the position, Michelle Bennett.
Drever has more than 26 years’ experience working within the community of Tukwila, including numerous regional and national endeavors, and “has a clear vision of bringing our Police Department forward in these critical times,” Ekberg said.
If approved by the Tukwila City Council, Drever will be officially appointed as Chief at a Council meeting on March 15. If confirmed, he would take the helm on April 1, with a 90-Day Chief’s Community Engagement Action Plan.
The City received 18 applications for the Chief gig; however, only four met the minimum qualifications for the position. All four were invited to interview with the panel made up of City staff, the Council President, various representatives from the community, including leaders in the faith, business, and non-profit communities, and representatives from various City Boards and Commissions and labor partners in the Police Department.
Two finalists dropped out, one accepted another position and one chose not to move forward for personal reasons.
The interview panels interviewed the two remaining candidates on Feb. 3, 2021, with the final two candidates participating in a virtual Community Town Hall Feb. 17, 2021 where they got a chance to present to community members and answer questions. The panelists also observed the town hall and provided their personal recommendations to the mayor.
Ekberg said that Drever is seen as a statewide expert in implementing police reforms such as Initiative 940, now known as the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA) – considered a national model on de-escalation, rendering aid, mental health, and the appropriate use of force by police. Drever has inter-agency cooperative experience and sits on a variety of shared governance boards overseeing SWAT, Civil Disturbance, and the Valley Independent Investigative Team. He also was the Commander of the regional auto theft task force.
“In his vision for the future of law enforcement, Drever sees the community as vital partners,” Ekberg said. “In speaking with Interim Chief Drever, he recognizes that Tukwila needs to respond to the calls for social justice issues and a national reckoning on the appropriate role of law enforcement. This will be a key focus of his role as Chief. He has already stated his intention to include community members in police officer hiring, as well as installing community members on the Tukwila Police Department Use of Force Review Board. Through COPCAB, he is delivering a community survey in multiple languages to gauge the community’s sense of safety and view of police services. Due to COVID-19, he is bringing the Tukwila Residential (Police) Academy online, supporting the Tukwila Tracker, an online quarterly newsletter, and further increasing the use of public education/information videos. I am sure we will see even more community focused activities under his leadership.”
Here’s more from Ekberg’s statement on Drever:
“I want to inform you that this was a difficult decision, one of the hardest I have had to make as Mayor, as I want the best for our community. We were blessed to have a transparent and community led process. Major Bennett was an excellent finalist, her references spoke to how she is a contributor, has a deep concern for community, and as we all witnessed in the townhall, a great presence. In my conversation with her this week I asked her specifically if she would be able to assist us and she shared her consultancy practice and stated she has a keen interest in assisting the Tukwila community and helping law enforcement personnel be successful. As such, I have asked Chief Drever to engage with her to discuss her services to help better our department.
“I appreciate the process the Council asked me to pursue for this unique position and want to thank you for ensuring we looked for the right person. I believe this inclusive process helped us find the right person for this position, Interim Chief Eric Drever. As you’ve experienced with me in previous appointments, I want the best for our community, and have base my decisions on who is the best fit, be they an internal or external candidate. As we searched for the right fit for our next Police Chief, we asked our residents and others what they were looking for in their next chief. I also received comments from those who interviewed the candidates and heard them at the public meetings. I believe Interim Chief Drever exemplifies these qualities and statements we heard when seeking someone with:
“Insight into cultures and communities in Tukwila”
“Understanding the difference between what is important to the commercial center and the neighborhoods and the differences between the two”
“De-escalation rather than force”
“We need a person who understands Tukwila, what is going on with our youth and particularly our African American community”
“Long term, build the relationship with the youth, which will take a few years to develop”
“Must be an authentic human being”
“Approachable, willing to be out in the community and engaging”
“Fighting for social justice and against systematic injustice and inequality”
“Mental health partnerships with the department are a need”
“Equity must be part of their value system”
“Has a deep understanding of the history of policing in America and the impacts it has on black & brown communities”
“Understands that the current policing model is not working”
“Next person must be honest and know how to work with Tukwila’s diverse community”
“Host listing sessions throughout the community and it must be on-going”
“Honesty, integrity, transparency and an advocate for our community”
“Police Department should interact with young people in a way that reaches out in a positive, empathetic manner”
“The leadership of the department needs to be out of the office, knocking on doors and talking to people”
“Someone who listens and acts upon what the public tells them”
“If confirmed, Chief Eric Drever has committed to begin April 1st with a 90-Day Chief’s Community Engagement Action Plan. Recognizing the national and local reckoning we have experienced over this past year, which includes calls for reform in law enforcement and rebuilding public trust, Chief Drever has committed to listening to all parts of our community. Chief Drever has committed to working with all our partners to continue to build bridges between law enforcement and our diverse and wonderful Tukwila community. Chief Drever plans to listen and share with our community the headway we have made towards equity in hiring, de-escalation, use of body cameras, and community-oriented policing. Chief Drever plans to hear what more we can do together to build a stronger community.
“One of our residents said they were looking for the permanent chief to be someone who will ‘…listen and acts upon what the public tells them.’ That says it all for me. I will bring forth Chief Drever’s appointment to the City Council for your confirmation at our Regular Council Meeting on March 15, 2021.”