Former Snohomish Sheriff stepping in to help FPD

Rick Bart

Chris Cook - Forks Forum photo
Former Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart holds his West End-made blackberry pie as he finishes addressing the Forks City Council on Monday evening, March 25 in the Council Chambers.

A Forks-made blackberry pie was promised to former Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart for appearing in front of the Forks City Council. He made good on the promise Monday evening, March 26 and was given the pie provided by Councilman Kevin Hinchen. Bart's focus on Forks came out through a casual contact with Hinchen, who is related to Bart. 

The appearance of Bart – who had a high profile in Seattle news during his years prior to retiring as the Snohomish sheriff – was a surprise move made by Mayor Bryon Monohon, and one the city council approved of following about 90 minutes of discussion. 

That discussion included a presentation in which Bart gave an analysis of improvements he sees that need to be made within the Forks Police Department. 

Monohon proposed that Bart come on board as a consultant to the Forks Police Department on a part-time basis. The veteran law enforcement officer, the mayor said, would help find a new police chief, serve as an administrator, help train and beef up the morale of FPD officers, but wouldn’t take on the role of police chief himself. Nor put on a uniform or take part in patrols or arrests.

During discussion on the possibility of hiring Bart, Monohon said attempting to make a quick job of hiring a police chief was a wrong tactic. He said having Bart in place would and going through a careful selection process will make sure the selection of a new chief would end up being a good one.

Bart said he was teaching a college level law enforcement course in Everett until early July, but would be able to come out to Forks about two days a week. Calls to him in Snohomish County on other days might also be included in the consulting agreement.

Towards the end of the council discussing the possible hiring of Bart, Councilman Mike Bridenbach at first said he would like to postpone taking action on contracting with Bart until Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict addressed the council on the issue of hiring a new police chief, on Bart and other related issues.

Council members Hinchen and Juanita Weissenfels disagreed, and said the situation of overworked police officers and the need for a leader in the police force trumped waiting for Benedict to speak.

All later agreed to move forward with drawing up a personal services contract to present to Bart, while still inviting Benedict to appear. Monohon said he would follow through on that. 

The City Council gave full approval for the mayor and City Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck to draw up a personal services contract with Bart good for 90 days, with a 90-day renewable possible. The contract will be brought before the council to go over, likely at their first meeting in April. 

Fleck briefed the council prior to their vote on the personal services contract motion, reiterating what Bart’s role would be with the FPD. He said that Bart wouldn’t be the equivalent of a police chief, he wouldn’t wear a Forks Police Department uniform, Bart wouldn’t go on patrol or take part in police actions. He would be a part-time consultant and handle some administrative duties and help train Forks police officers, plus help in finding and determining who the next Forks Police Chief would be, plus helping to recruit new FPD officers.

Administrative Assistant Nerissa Davis, who has been trained in selecting law enforcement candidates for municipalities, spoke up during the discussion and produced a thick folder filled with applicants for a vacant police officer position within the Forks Police Department. She said four “referrals,” that is police officers who have already been police academy trained and employed by a police department, were among the applicants who have responded to a recruiting ad placed by the City of Forks.

Monohon said there were funds available to cover the contract with Bart due to having the police chief’s position vacant since fall 2011.

The retired sheriff spoke at the council meeting at length, describing how he solved problems he faced during 12 years as Snohomish County Sheriff including working with a neighborhood watch program and drug awareness programs in local schools to tackle a meth use problem in an area Rolling Stone magazine called in 2003 “The Meth Capital of the World.”

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