07/14/2000

Police Chief Anything But Typical

MONROE, Wash. -- Colleen Wilson is anything but a typical police chief. She didn’t even have a life-long ambition to be an officer. Her ability to draw the community together and win the admiration of the officers under her command are the talents she brings to the job.Wilson frequently speaks to local groups, seeking their opinions on how the department could be run better. She takes part in town events and believes in community policing. A few years ago she made a bet with her officers over whether they could raise $10,000 for charity. They did, and their payoff was watching her jump out of a plane. This feat was all the more amazing since she is afraid of heights. To lighten up staff meetings, she’s been known to bring finger paints.Wilson came to Monroe in 1971 with her husband, Jerry, when he took a job as a teacher at Monroe High School. She was hired by the City of Monroe and typed police reports, handled citizens’ water bill payments and answered the telephone.The turning point in her life came on the day after Thanksgiving in 1975 when a middle-aged woman walked into City Hall. Wilson was at the reception desk and asked whether she could help the woman. The woman replied that she had just shot her husband in the head.Wilson was taken aback but she asked the woman have a seat. Wilson then went to get a police officer. That incident told Wilson that she needed more training to work at City Hall. Then-chief Chuck Nauman thought she had potential and offered to send her to reserve officer training. It was only a matter of time before she wanted to become a full-time permanent officer. She scored high on the civil service test and attended the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center police academy. She graduated first academically and was elected vice president of her class.After spending eight years on the street, Wilson was promoted to sergeant. In 1990 she made lieutenant and she was named chief on April 1, 1993. In that time, the department grew to 25 officers, up from six when she first joined in 1977.

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