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Updated: Bellevue police chief to retire in April
Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo will retire April 15, which happens to be her 28th anniversary with the police department and 35th year of public service.
Pillo started her career in law enforcement with the Mercer Island Police Department in 1979. Interim City Manager Brad Miyake highlighted the police chief's successes in an email to city staff, particularly how "she helped blaze the trail for women in the field of law enforcement." Pillo was Bellevue's first female captain, major, deputy chief and chief.
"I had the good fortune of being hired by Bellevue Police in 1986," Pillo wrote in an email to her staff. "I’ll never forget how proud and excited I was to wear the Bellevue uniform and after 28 years, I am even more proud to wear this uniform. What an honor and privilege it has been to work for such an incredible organization filled with professional and dedicated men and women serving the Bellevue community. I feel truly blessed."
While Pillo makes plans to spend more time in Palm Springs during her retirement, Miyake will now work with the city of Bellevue's human resources director to put together a recruitment strategy and leadership transition.
"We're really looking for someone like Linda, who's been a great leader," said Miyake. "We know the city has changed in terms of the diverse population that we're seeing right now from what it was 30 years ago. We'll be looking for someone with that kind of experience."
Miyake said part of the process for replacing the police chief will involve allowing the City Council, community leaders, residents and city staff to weigh in on the hiring process.
"The candidates internally can certainly apply for the position," he said. "We have some great people internally. I just don't know what's going to come back when we go out to our stakeholders."
A decision on who will ultimately become the next police chief for the city of Bellevue will be left to the city's next city manager. Miyake has been serving in the position since Steve Sarkozy resigned from the position in May.
Advertising for the city manager position closed Jan. 24, and a list of candidates is expected to be whittled down to a just a few finalists by early March. Final on-site interviews are planned to occur in early April.
The Bellevue Police Department has been marred by internal issues over the past year. One Bellevue officer resigned in January after he was charged with DUI. An internal investigation continues into that former officer and another officer alleged to have allowed him to be taken home rather than be arrested. An inquest into the March 2013 shooting of a man by Bellevue SWAT members in Seattle is tentatively set to begin in March.
"Every department has these kinds of things going on," said Miyake. "In my opinion, I don't think it's going to deter any candidates from applying."