Woman To Run State Patrol For First Time Current Chief Resigns Without Explanation
The first woman to head the Washington State Patrol says her main job is to restore morale among troopers. She also intends to clear out the “good old boys” she says have been running the agency.
Annette Sandberg was named as patrol chief Tuesday by Gov. Mike Lowry. She replaces Roger Bruett, who had served as chief for the past 27 months.
The 33-year-old Sandberg is the attorney for the Troopers’ Association and served on the patrol for 11 years, rising to the rank of lieutenant. She left the patrol last year after receiving her law degree from the University of Puget Sound. Her last job on the patrol was as commander of the Internal Affairs section, which checks out complaints about troopers from the public and from within the agency.
In a brief interview, Sandberg said she would begin immediately to make changes in the parole’s upper echelon, which she said has been run by the “good old boys network.”
“There will be resignations or a lot of people will be reduced in rank and moved elsewhere,” she said.
“I plan on implementing many of the changes I feel are necessary, including improvements in the management structure and in attitudes toward rank and file personnel.”
Patrol spokesman Lt. Ron O’Gwin said that Deputy Chief Ed Berry, a 28-year veteran, and Maj. Phil Peterson, a 26-year veteran, both retired Tuesday. O’Gwin said it’s not unusual for high-ranking officers to step down at the end of a chief’s term.
Bruett, 50, who has served as chief for 27 months, was one of Lowry’s first major appointments.
“Roger served in the patrol for 27 years,” the governor said. “His experience and loyalty to the agency is greatly appreciated.”
In a statement, Bruett said he was “proud of the many accomplishments we have made together over the past 2 1/2 years.
“The Washington State Patrol is held in high esteem as a professional law enforcement agency by the citizens of the state, and I am confident that you will support the insights of the next administrator and our agency,” he said.
There was speculation Bruett had been asked to resign, but the governor’s office declined to comment.
Bruett has been a low-profile chief but happenings on his watch have been anything but low key. During his tenure, troopers clocked Lowry speeding three times but never gave him a ticket. And a WSP fingerprint technician accused the governor of improperly touching her when she took his prints for a security clearance.
Bruett recently angered the ranking Republican and Democratic legislators on the House Transportation Committee, which oversees the patrol’s budget, because of his defense of Lowry against the sexual misconduct charge by the fingerprint technician.
Bruett told The Weekly in Seattle he didn’t believe Lowry improperly rubbed himself against Becky Miner, even though Bruett had never talked with Miner.
In her written statement, Sandberg said before she left the patrol, she felt the need for significant changes in the management structure and the thinking in the state patrol.
“When I left the agency last year, I was frustrated from the lack of direction and change in the patrol’s management,” she said. “As the Troopers Association attorney, I have continued to see morale decline at all levels in the agency.
“I believe I can reverse the trend.”
The Troopers’ Association hailed the appointment. “It’s a great day for the patrol,” said Dan Davis, the organization president. “She’s an extraordinary person and will make a great chief. It will be a very welcome change.”
Davis refused to speculate on whether Bruett was asked to resign but said the chief “was not a good leader, he really wasn’t. He never got a handle on things. It seemed like he considered being chief as a ceremonial position.”
Bruett was given a poor rating in a survey conducted by the association last year.
Sandberg, a native of Moses Lake, graduated from Central Washington University and joined the patrol in 1983 in Wenatchee. She later was assigned to the patrol’s Bellevue office while studying for a master’s degree in business. In 1988, she was named trooper of the year for King County.