Kent to add ‘Chief’ to Robert E. Lee police station name

  • Wednesday, November 8, 2017 11:43am
  • News

Residents can attend a rededication of the Kent Police Department building in honor of former Police Chief Robert E. Lee.

The ceremony is at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the police station, 220 Fourth Ave. S.

“Chief” will be added in front of Lee’s name to help calm any controversy about whether the building is named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Chief “Bob” Lee served the city of Kent from 1948 to June 1966 as its police chief, and from 1968 through 1972, as a Kent City Council member. In the 1980s, he worked as the membership salesman for the Kent Chamber of Commerce where he met Suzette Cooke in 1981, when she was hired as the chamber’s executive director.

“Chief Lee was a great ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce,” Mayor Cooke said in a city media release. “The business people respected his knowledge and integrity. When combined with Bob’s people skills and soft sense of humor, he proved very successful in sales.”

In the early 1990s, City Hall expanded to the south, into what was then the King County Library. The old library was remodeled to accommodate the police department. The city dedicated the police headquarters in memory of Lee on Sept. 18, 1992.

Vicki (Lee) Schmitz, the daughter of the man who led the police force for 18 years, spoke about her father to the Kent Reporter in August as well as to the council after the protest last summer in Charlottesville, Va., against the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Cooke talked about the former police chief during her report Aug. 15 to the council. She responded after someone posted a comment on the Kent Police Facebook page, asking what the department was going to do about the name on its building after the events in Charlottesville. Cooke later agreed with a suggestion by Schmitz to add Chief in front of the name.

Lee also served as a hearing officer for the Kent School District, and he founded the Kent Juvenile Court Committee. He had great empathy for kids and wanted to see them grow up and stay on the right path. His community service garnered him an award from the Kent Rotary Club.

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