Police chief candidates interview for opening in Maple Valley

The city of Maple Valley is continuing to move toward selecting its next police chief.

Two candidates, Capt. Scott Somers and Capt. DJ Nesel, both from within the King County Sheriff’s Office, were interviewed by the City Council Monday night in a special council meeting and by City Manager David Johnston on Tuesday. Both were also previously interviewed by a panel of senior city staff members and by a panel of current members of the Maple Valley Police Department.

The top post in the department opened earlier this summer when Sheriff John Urquhart decided to shuffle staff within the Sheriff’s Office, including reassigning longtime Maple Valley Chief Michelle Bennett.

Somers told council that he wanted the post in Maple Valley due to his prior experience with the community, including previously serving at Maple Valley chief for one year while Bennett was away getting additional experience after she had been promoted in rank.

“When I was here before and standing in for Michelle I fell in love with the community,” Somers said.

Both candidates detailed their many years of service in various posts across the Sheriff’s Office.

Nesel cited his desire to work in Maple Valley because of his affinity for the area and the proximity to his home. He also said he wants the opportunity to put his leadership style — which he referred to as “inclusive” and “collaborative” ­— to work in the community.

Both commended each other to the council and told the council members that no matter whom they choose, they can’t go wrong.

The captains also fielded questions about their philosophy on community policing, their vision for the department, how they perceive Maple Valley, their impression of the police department and how they see the relationship between the position of chief and city council members.

“Community policing is where your police department gets involved with things other than crime and disorder issues,” Somers said. “I think community policing is a form of servant leadership and it’s a philosophy for serving the community as a whole.”

Nesel said that the biggest difference between himself and Somers were their differing leadership styles, which he attributed to generational differences. Despite that — Somers also told council that “it’s a style difference” during his interview — both spoke about the need to be out and engage the community, building on relationships with residents. Nesel spoke about the importance of communication and accessibility of the department to residents.

“Community policing is going out every day and communicating,” Nesel said. “The number one point of our job is to communicate, communicate, communicate.”




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