City of Bothell hires Cummings as new police chief: 'This is really going to be an interesting and challenging job'
By ANDY NYSTROM
Bothell Reporter Reporter
January 5, 2011 · Updated 11:26 AM
As Carol Cummings strolled up the steps leading to the Bothell Police Department building on Monday afternoon, one could tell she was already at home. The new chief displayed an air of confidence as she surveyed the scene, said hello to a city employee and later chatted with retiring Chief Forrest Conover like an old pal.
"I wasn't out looking to become a police chief — I wanted to become Bothell's police chief," said Cummings, who will start her new job Jan. 24. "I have a lot of respect for Forrest Conover — we've worked together. And the Bothell Police Department is very well-respected in the region."
Added Conover, who met Cummings on a King County homeland-security committee: "She has a similar philosophy to mine: I believe in treating people with fairness, courtesy and respect."
Cummings has kept an eye on Bothell when she's driven through the area and is looking forward to watching the city change and grow under her command.
There's the downtown Crossroads project, which will realign the intersection of Main Street and Bothell's state routes 522 and 527, the addition of a McMenamins hotel and brewpub on Bothell Way Northeast and more.
The search is over
After an extensive search, Bothell found its new chief to replace Conover, who has spent 28 years in law enforcement and announced his retirement last June. His last day on the job will be Jan. 31.
"We're very pleased. It's been a long process, but it's been well worth it," said Deputy City Manager Steve Anderson, noting that the initial field of 40 applicants was cut down to 17, seven and then the final three. "It's an important decision for the department, the city and the community — we don't treat it lightly."
Cummings, 52, comes to Bothell from the King County Sheriff’s Office where she has served for the past 27 years, most recently as the Special Operations Division chief, one of four chiefs who serve under Sheriff Sue Rahr.
"She has very natural leadership capabilities, and is an excellent communicator, both written and oral," said Anderson. "She's a people person, she genuinely cares for people and she's a good public servant, as well as with those in her chain of command."
A graduate of Reed College (Portland, Ore.), Cummings started her career in law enforcement with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon in 1981. She then started work with the King County Sheriff’s Office two years later and has been moving up through the ranks ever since.
Cummings' Special Operations Division duties include coordinating the bomb squad, marine and helicopter patrol, the K-9 unit and more. Anderson was impressed how Cummings led the way in the Sheriff's Office taking over Metro transit law-enforcement services from the Seattle Police Department.
Anderson noted that Cummings also works well with unions, of which Bothell has three: the Police Guild, the Captains Guild and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The new chief seemed destined to help others. She noted that her mother was a teacher and others in her family have served in the military or held down jobs in the law-enforcement or social-worker fields.
“I seemed to naturally gravitate toward (law enforcement), and I've never looked back,” said Cummings, who is married and lives in north Lake City; she and her husband have three children — 13- and 23-year-old daughters and a 21-year-old son. “I've had a lot of experiences I wouldn't have had otherwise.”
Cummings was selected from among 40 applicants through a rigorous interview process that included a community open house and an extensive background investigation.
Anderson and City Manager Bob Stowe conducted final-three interviews Nov. 29 and informed Cummings of their final decision Dec. 1.
"All (of the last) seven were quality — it was not easy for us to cull it down to three," Anderson continued, noting that Conover, Stowe, Greg Prothman of the hired search firm and various members of the Bothell Police Department and Sheriff's Office joined him during several different interview phases. The city received its final background-investigation report in late December.
"It was a rigorous interviewing process, but a very, very good one. It really made you become more thoughtful, it made you put your philosophy into words," Cummings said. "It was a challenge. And this is really going to be an interesting and challenging job."
Conover signing off
Over the course of his career at the Bothell Police Department, Chief Conover, 55, has held every rank in the department and is the only person to do so. From entry level patrol officer, Conover advanced to detective, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and was appointed to the chief-of-police position in 2002 following the retirement of then-Chief Mark Ericks.
"It's something that I really wanted to do since my late teens," Conover said. "I was able to fulfill that dream of law enforcement and I was able to do it in the best place: Bothell."
When the city hired Chief Conover in December of 1983, Bothell’s population was about 10,000 people and there were only nine officers. A quieter community then, it wasn’t uncommon for officers to chase resident Dick Truly’s cows off of Interstate 405. Bothell has grown since then through annexation and population growth and is now a city of about 33,000 with about 27,000 additional people coming into Bothell during the day for employment and education.
Conover said that although the city has grown and become more busy, especially at night, Bothell has remained a safe place to live.
After he finishes up on Jan. 31, Conover said he's got a few things on his to-do list: start a business, work in homeland security or help abused animals.
Added Stowe: "He has been an extraordinary police chief and will be greatly missed."
The Bothell Police Department features 58 commissioned officers, including the chief, and 27 civilian officers. Its biennial budget is $23 million and in 2009 it received 25,678 calls for service.
According to the four-page job announcement, the new chief will earn between approximately $114,000 and $146,000 annually.Contact Bothell Reporter Reporter Andy Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).