The city of DuPont has hired a permanent police chief after months of negotiations with state officials to ensure the south Pierce County city doesn’t again run afoul of state retirement rules.
Police Chief Bob Sheehan will earn $6,849 a month working 35 hours a week, less than the $7,327 a month he was earning as interim police chief starting in April. He became permanent chief July 19.
Sheehan retired last year as assistant chief of operations at the Tacoma Police Department, ending a 30-year career with the urban police force. DuPont Mayor Michael Grayum said Sheehan was the “overwhelming” choice of the community after a public forum and council interviews. The city had four finalists for the job, City Administrator Dawn Masko said.
“We’re excited to have someone of his caliber and leadership on board,” Grayum said. “We really believe he’ll take our police department to the next level.”
The announcement was delayed for two months as the city and the state Department of Retirement Systems hashed out how Sheehan could work for the city without jeopardizing his retirement benefits.
This year, the state agency ordered the city to pay a total of $600,000 after its audit found city officials incorrectly classified three former city employees, including its former police and fire chiefs, as contractors.
Former DuPont Fire Chief Greg Hull resigned May 31 after the state agency temporarily stopped pension benefits he earned during a 40-year career with the Lakewood fire district.
Sheehan had notified the city of his intention to terminate his interim contract “out of fear and confusion from the recent audit findings,” Grayum wrote the state agency in a June email obtained by The News Tribune. Sheehan couldn’t be reached for comment.
Grayum said the city still is weighing whether to appeal the state decision.
After numerous high-level discussions, DRS and the city came to an agreement that allowed DuPont to hire Sheehan as a part-time employee that will allow him to continue to receive the benefits he earned during his career with Tacoma police.
Sheehan replaced Ron Goodpaster, who retired this year after five years as DuPont’s chief.
Grayum has tasked Sheehan to fill two vacant officer positions, beef up training and strengthen employee relations. The department has fewer than a dozen officers.Christian Hill: 253-274-7390 christian.hill@ thenewstribune.com