Rich Allen becomes Olympia Police Chief

By Edwin Oscar U. Gutierrez, Jr.

After a two-year search and the prospect of removal, Olympia City Manager Jay Burney today named Acting Chief of Police Rich Allen as the permanent chief of the city’s police department.

“What we have learned is that we have this leader here in Olympia,” Burney announced in a Press releaseadding that Allen initially didn’t apply for the position which had several ‘twists’, as Burney described it, as Syracuse’s former initial prospect, NYPD Chief Kenton Buckner, withdrew his candidacy.

“We searched across the country for the best and most qualified law enforcement officials at a time when recruiting such officials was particularly difficult,” Burney said.

According to the city, Allen’s 30-year career in law enforcement began with him as a 15-year-old volunteer in the city’s Police Explorers program. He then held professional positions as a patrol officer, training officer, motorcycle officer and detective, rising through the ranks to deputy chief.

Allen graduated from the FBI National Academy with an executive-level certification from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Olympia named Allen acting chief of police in October last year after Aaron Jelcick who served in the role from December 2019 to September 2021. The city’s last appointed police chief was Ronnie Roberts, who retired in December 2019.

“I am touched and honored by the City Manager’s appointment,” Allen said. “I appreciate the trust he has shown in me and the support I have received from members of the City’s department and management.

“I’ve seen him (Allen), as a temp, doing and supporting innovative work within the Department,” Burney remarked. “I saw him as a confident, intelligent, innovative and humble leader who fell short and modeled the transparency and openness we seek.”

Burney also said conversations with the community and the Department showed a need for “a leader who would bring a fresh perspective; whose natural flaw was openness, transparency and accountability; and who have embraced the reinvention of public safety.”

The city will host a virtual town hall June 28 at 6 p.m. Thursday for Allen to discuss his plans for the 110-man police department and answer questions from community members.

Aubrey L. Morgan