Auburn Police Chief Daniel O'Neil. Photo courtesy of the City of Auburn

Auburn Police chief to retire Oct. 7

O’Neil was appointed interim chief of police in 2019.

After 20 years on the force and just over one year as chief, Auburn Police Chief Daniel O’Neil announced his retirement. He will step down from his position effective Oct. 7.

O’Neil did not say why he chose to retire, however he said it was the right decision for himself and his family, according to public information officer Kolby Crossley.

The city is actively seeking a replacement for O’Neil, who announced Sept. 17 he is retiring, according to the Auburn Police Department.

O’Neil was appointed interim chief of police in 2019 after Chief William Pierson “separated” from the department.

In May 2020, O’Neil was sworn in as chief. O’Neil led the department through a tumultuous period; three months after O’Neil was sworn in, Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson was charged with murder for the death of Jesse Sarey.

Despite the challenges he faced, O’Neil made several changes that improved the department, according to the Auburn Police.

O’Neil made changes to the department’s hiring processes which increased the racial diversity of the department from 10% when he started to 23% in under a year, according to police.

The 25-member Police Advisory Committee (PAC) was also created during O’Neil’s tenure as police chief, according to the Auburn Police. The PAC is made up of police officers and community members approved by the chief who represent specific demographics of Auburn.

O’Neil attended one last PAC meeting as police chief on Sept. 16. During the meeting O’Neil raised concerns about the new Health Through Housing hotel in Auburn, which will house around 100 people experiencing homelessness. O’Neil said he expects calls for service to rise in the area.

During the same meeting O’Neil also spoke about vaccine mandates and he worries that more police officers in Washington will quit due to vaccine mandates.

There’s currently no statewide vaccine mandate for local police officers in Washington, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders.

O’Neil joined the Auburn Police in 1999 and worked the graveyard shift for three years before he was promoted to field training officer in 2003. In 2005, O’Neil became a generalist canine handler and worked with two different dogs for six years.

In 2010, O’Neil was promoted to the rank of sergeant and worked property crimes, special investigations and patrol. In 2017, O’Neil was promoted to the rank of commander. O’Neil has a master’s degree in public safety executive leadership from Saint Cloud University in Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Eastern Washington University, according to the Auburn Police Department.

The Auburn Police Department credits O’Neil with significantly improving the department’s culture by changing disciplinary policy, internal investigations and creating the PAC.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

King County Councilmember Dunn to challenge Schrier for U.S. Congress seat

Potential showdown in 8th District between Republican Dunn and Democrat Schrier

Photo courtesy of Kristen Gregory via the Federal Way Police Department’s Facebook page.
Federal Way mayor responds to surge of crime, violence in South Sound

November is Federal Way’s second deadliest month with three homicides so far.

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Jesse Sarey’s family wants people to know who the real Jesse was

He was killed by Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson in 2019.

Calvary Lutheran Church in Federal Way. COURTESY PHOTO
Federal Way man accused of shooting homeless man over stolen drugs

Occurred outside of Calvary Lutheran Church in Federal Way

Homeless encampment in a wooded area in Auburn on Aug. 27, 2021. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
What the history of homelessness in our region can teach us about our current crisis

A talk with the author of “Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City.”

King County Courthouse comfort dog dies

King County’s first Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) courthouse comfort dog has died,… Continue reading

Example of what it can look like when you replace a grass lawn with native plants. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
Tired of mowing the lawn? Consider using native plants

Replacing your lawn with Northwest vegetation can be beneficial to homeowners and wildlife alike.

Highline College chooses Jamilyn Penn as interim vice president

Will help manage Student Services division

Stock photo
Seattle-area pair indicted for defrauding COVID-19 benefit programs

Amount exceeds $1 million; including $500,000 from state Employment Security Department

Sen. Steve Hobbs. File photo
Sen. Steve Hobbs named secretary of state

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed the Snohomish County Democrat to succeed departing Republican Kim Wyman.

Police vehicle
Drive-by shooting near Black Diamond leaves bullet hole in pickup

Vehicle approached at high rate of speed from behind and fired round

100 displaced after three-alarm fire engulfs Auburn apartment complex | Update

No one was hurt in the fire, according to the Valley Regional Fire Authority.