After about 12 years without a deputy chief, the Kent Police Department has finally filled that position with the promotion of Matt Stansfield from assistant chief.
Police Chief Rafael Padilla said he wanted to restore the position “in an effort to elevate the overall effectiveness of our police department.”
Kent hasn’t had a deputy chief since Mike Painter held the job under then-Chief Steve Strachan for about four years before Strachan left in 2011 to become an undersheriff with the King County Sheriff’s Office. Ken Thomas didn’t have a deputy chief in his seven years leading the department. Padilla replaced Thomas in 2018.
“The position remained unfilled for about 12 years for a multitude of reasons, including some restructuring of personnel and our officer staffing challenges,” said Padilla, in an Aug. 10 email, and added that the department previously had a deputy chief for many years.
“I requested that the position be restored in an effort to elevate the overall effectiveness of our police department,” Padilla said. “Up to this point, I made a conscious decision not to fill the position. When I was appointed (by Mayor Dana Ralph) to chief, I wanted to move the department in a new direction, with a focus on enhancing the culture of our department and our connection to the community.
“To accomplish that I decided I would maintain direct control of both the operational oversight of all three department divisions (Patrol, Investigations and Support Services) as well as perform the executive level duties that come with being a chief.”
Padilla said those duties include community engagement, strategic planning, a member of the Mayor’s Executive Team, legislative engagement, regional/state engagement, strategic planning, media, special events, etc.
“I put in the hours, many many hours for years to make that work,” he said.
So many hours that Padilla said others told him he worked too much.
“Over the years, I have had several people, both internal and external of the department, express concern about the sustainability of the workload I was carrying,” Padilla said. “One of those people was Mayor Ralph.”
Despite the concerns, Padilla hesitated to fill the position.
“I only know one way to do my job,” he said. “It’s fully engaged, constantly working to solve problems and make things better, and doing everything I can to serve and care for the residents of Kent and the employees of the Kent Police Department. Therefore, I was slow to warm up to the idea that the department’s effectiveness would increase if I had someone take over coordinating the operations of all three divisions in the department.
“Once I realized we would both improve department operations and provide additional capacity to strengthen the executive level work I am responsible for, I knew this was the right decision at the right time.”
Deputy chief’s role
Stansfield, who has been with the Kent Police Department since 2008, was recently assigned as an assistant chief in the Support Services Division where he oversaw the Kent city jail, Police Department Records Unit, Evidence Unit, and other administrative support staff, in addition to department training, recruitment, hiring, accreditation, budget and special projects.
As deputy chief, Stansfield, who began his new job July 16, oversees numerous department programs in all divisions, operations and personnel. Stansfield started in Kent in the patrol division. He has worked as a patrol officer and field training officer until 2016 when he was promoted to patrol sergeant.
Stansfield said in an email that he was humbled and curious to what his role might be when Padilla approached him about becoming deputy chief.
“That did not last long as Chief Padilla explained his intent I felt it would be a good fit for me,” he said.
Stansfield looks forward to his new role.
“My primary goals are to enhance what is already a well-functioning organization so it can be positioned to respond and, if needed, adapt to the policing needs of the community,” Stansfield said. “This will primarily be done by ensuring we understand the needs of the community, that we develop our people (especially our leaders) so they feel confident in carrying out their work and, finally, by placing an emphasis on quality.
“Kent PD has a history of quality from an intrinsic or internal standpoint but I really want to have an overt focus on the quality of work, the quality of interaction and the quality of perception on the part of the community we serve,” he said.
Time for a change
Padilla said three things have happened to make it the right time for a change.
“First, our department has moved in the direction I want, and we continue to get better every year,” Padilla said. “Part of that process happened because we have established a team of outstanding law enforcement professionals, who makeup my command staff. They not only understand how I want things to go but have a level of ownership and understanding to where they are anticipating future needs and taking innovative steps to meet those needs.”
Second, Padilla said, is the fact the department has filled its 166 budgeted positions, although the chief has said numerous times that a city with Kent’s population of more than 130,000 should have a staff of 195 officers.
“We have pulled off a miracle and we have stabilized our police officer staffing for the positions allotted,” Padilla said. “We still need many more officers and support staff, but we are maximizing the position we have been given. I would not have asked to fill the deputy chief position if we had not accomplished getting the officers positions filled first.”
The third reason to have a deputy chief Padilla said is the changes in the law enforcement profession.
“These changes have intensified demands not only on operational level staff, but the law enforcement leaders whose responsibility it is to meet the ever-increasing needs and requirements pressed upon law enforcement,” Padilla said. “At all levels of the department, we have seen an increase not only to the volume of work, but also the complexity of the work. I have several colleagues who have retired in the last five years, and they are amazed at how much change has occurred and they struggle to understand how we are holding it all together.”
With the promotion of Stansfield, Padilla also promoted Andy Grove to assistant chief to take over Stansfield’s duties in charge of the Support Services Division. Kent has two other assistant chiefs on his command staff, Eric Hemmen, who oversees the Investigations Division, and Jarod Kasner, who oversees the Patrol Division.
“Our divisions are made up of several units and work groups with dozens of staff members assigned to them,” Padilla said. “This creates a significant span of control challenge for the assistant chiefs. With the safety risks and liability that comes with conducting our work, I want my assistant chiefs fully focused on the work of their division and the management of their personnel.”
Padilla said this is where a deputy chief will make a difference.
“The deputy chief is the second in command of the department and will serve as the chief in my absence,” he said. “His primary duty is to work with the assistant chiefs to synchronize the combined efforts of our three divisions towards accomplishing our mission. The deputy chief is responsible for operationalizing my vision for the department and overseeing the development of our strategic plan. Additionally, there are several other responsibilities/processes that were de-centralized prior and are now being consolidated under one person.”
Padilla expects the move to strengthen the department.
“We will see improved efficiency and communication both internally and externally,” he said. “Capacity for innovation and longer-term planning will be increased, resulting in better adaptability and resiliency to the service we provide the community. Service delivery objectives, recognition and accountability throughout the department will increase.”
The chief sees Stansfield as the right fit for the job.
“Aside from the improvements to our operations of our department, the appointment of Matt Stansfield to deputy chief is a big win for our city and the department,” Padilla said. “Matt has grown up in and around Kent and has family who resides here. Matt shares my vision of improving the lives of our Kent residents and carries the same sense of duty to serve others.”
Padilla said the promotion of Grove will benefit the department as well.
“Andy is an incredible leader with an impressive record of accomplishments in his exemplary career,” Padilla said.
Padilla likes the veteran leadership he has established with his assistant chiefs.
“Every member of my command staff shares common values and cherishes the responsibility that comes with being law enforcement leaders, but our individual perspectives and experiences are vastly different,” he said. “It is the diversity of these viewpoints that make us highly adaptable to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve.”
Stansfield said he can help the department become stronger as the command staff expands by one with his new deputy chief position.
“I think my understanding of the community is important and is definitely an asset,” he said. “I lived in Kent as kid and as an adult and I have quite a bit of family here still. I think that gives me a good, and slightly unique, perspective on the needs of the community.
“I also have a broad base of experience outside of law enforcement having worked in the private sector for a substantial part of my adult life, having spent time in the military, as well as having owned a small business with my wife up until recently.
“I have excelled in leadership roles in all of those settings and those perspectives are something I have carried into being a leader here at Kent PD. I also feel that the diversity of my experience helps me quite a bit when it comes to seeing things from a community perspective or adjusting the status quo if needed.”
Stansfield realizes he doesn’t have as much experience as others, but sees that as a benefit.
“I admittedly have not been a police officer for that long compared to the responsibility Chief Padilla has entrusted me with,” he said. “I have been in law enforcement since 2008 and while that means I am somewhat less tenured than some of my peers it also means I tend to bring perspectives that can fade with tenure. Doing so helps us better collaborate with our community and newest officers while not losing the vast experience of our more senior staff. This is especially important as we grow as a city and a department.”
Deputy chief pay
Stansfield will make a base salary of $212,076 per year, according to the city’s Civil Service Commission July 26 documents.
Stansfield also will receive enhanced monthly payments in addition to the base salary because of the increase in responsibility and that he is moving from an union-represented position to a non-represented one, according to a Juy 18 Civil Service Commission memo.
He will receive management benefits of $2,243 per year and an additional management benefit pay of $51,348 per year, which boosts his total pay to $265,667. That pay will be prorated for 2023.
Padilla said the deputy chief is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the chief and is not a member of the police union.
Grove will receive a base salary of $198,204 per year as an assistant chief, according to city documents.