OLYMPIA - It's official: Ronnie Roberts is Olympia's new police chief, City Manager Steve Hall announced Wednesday.
Hall said Roberts, now the chief of the Redmond Police Department in Oregon, will arrive Jan. 10 in Olympia. His salary will be $140,455 – the same as former Chief Gary Michel.
“I’m very pleased I’ve been selected,” Roberts said. “I think I’m coming into a city organization that has a great reputation.”
Roberts, 49, was picked over 75 other applicants to replace Michel, who retired as chief in September after 13 years. Cmdr. Steve Nelson is the acting chief until Roberts starts the job.
Asked why he picked Roberts, Hall said, “He comes across as very sincere, easy to talk to, good listener, someone who understands policing, because they’ve done it.”
He also praised Roberts’ experience in Eugene, Ore., where he worked from 1986 to 2007, saying it would be applicable to his tenure in Olympia.
In Eugene, Roberts rose from patrol officer to lieutenant. In two stints of nearly a year each, he was acting captain of the investigations unit. According to his résumé, he helped identify and apprehend 11 domestic terrorists and was operations commander for criminal intelligence and vice narcotic units. He also developed an anti-graffiti task force and was responsible for “successful deployment of resources to three large-scale civil disturbances and riots in the university neighborhoods,” according to his résumé.
“I think that background experience dealing with similar issues like (the) City of Olympia was very valuable,” Hall said.
Roberts has led the Redmond department since 2007. Redmond is a city of 25,445 in the high desert of Central Oregon, the geographical heart of the state, about 15 miles north of Bend.
The Redmond department has 55 employees, including 35 sworn officers, according to Roberts’ resume. Olympia has 69 commissioned officers and 29 civilian corrections and support employees, according to the city’s website.
Roberts said the most important first step is to get to know the Olympia police organization. He also plans to meet with residents at coffee shop gatherings, and perhaps public forums.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org