WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday announced that Steve Crown, a lieutenant in the (WDFW) Enforcement Program, had been promoted today to serve as the agency's Chief of enforcement.
The selection process has been kept low-key for months.
Crown is replacing Bruce Bjork, who is retiring after 43 years of state service, including 15 as the leader of the WDFW Enforcement Program.
Crown graduated from the University of Idaho and spent 11 years with the Wenatchee Police Department before joining WDFW in 2002. He was selected after a national recruitment and interview process and transitioned into his new role by working alongside Chief Bjork for the past month.
When I requested information about the selection on June 24, Mike Cenci, program deputy chief, responded:
"It is a public process.........will provide info today."
Not hearing back, I contacted Cenci again on July 22 after finding nothing online regarding the national search for a new chief. Here's his reply:
Sorry Rich. I can't find a posting. I know that the agency solicited the Washington Assoc. of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs to conduct a nationwide search. They are down to a finalist, who will face a forum of labor and other agency personnel for a Q&A session. The appointment will occur depending on that outcome. If your interested in the minimum qualifications, I will dig.
I responded with a query for more information regarding the Q&A session Cenci mentioned and names of finalists, and got his final response:
I am not authorized to provide any detail yet, Rich.
Here's the rest of the info from the WDFW media release issued Friday at 4 p.m. as most people were turning their attention to a holiday weekend:
"Steve brings a well-rounded law enforcement background to his new position, as well as a passion for the state's natural resources," said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. "The Enforcement Program plays a key role in helping the department achieve our mission and meet our legal responsibilities. I am confident Steve will maintain and enhance the consistent and professional approach that has been a hallmark of Chief Bjork's tenure."
"Bruce Bjork is one of this state's most highly respected law enforcement leaders," said Crown. "I am honored and excited to lead the Enforcement Program and to build upon his accomplishments."
Under Bjork's leadership, WDFW made significant investments in cutting-edge law enforcement technology that increased officers' efficiency and improved their ability to apprehend violators. He also helped establish the department as a general authority police agency and was instrumental in the passage of legislation that increased penalties for egregious violations such as spree killing and poaching trophy-class big-game animals.