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Puyallup captain preps to be next Fife chief

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The next top cop in Fife is set to come from the Puyallup Police Department.

Fife City Manager Subir Mukerjee has selected Puyallup Police Capt. Scott Engle to be the city’s next chief of police.

“It was a tough choice,” he said, noting that all of the candidates would have been good fits for Fife. “Any one of them could do the job. When I added it all up, Scott seemed like the best choice.”

Engle is now going through the final background checks and is set to be hired for the position in early February after that process is cleared. A swearing in ceremony will then be slated for an upcoming City Council meeting. He was selected from a short list of candidates that included Fife’s interim chief David Woods as well as Peter Fisher, Operations Lieutenant for Bremerton Police; Timothy Gately, Redmond Police’s Operations Commander; John Hill, a former Chief Deputy from Riverside County, Calif.; and Lake Forest Park Chief C. Stephen Sutton. Woods will return to his former post as assistant chief once Engle is sworn in as chief.

The selection of the new chief of police came after a community meet and greet in December that allowed community members to provide comments about each of the candidates as well as a committee review process that included members of civic leaders and local law enforcement officers.

“Everyone liked the process and said that they felt involved and listened to,” Mukerjee said. “It was a pretty broad-based interview process.”

Engle is currently in charge of Puyallup’s Professional Services Division, which oversees the department’s Problem-Oriented Policing, the City of Puyallup’s Jail, Police Records and Support Services, Training, Internal Affairs, Public Information, the Police Explorers program and Animal Control. He grew up in Sumner and attended college at University of Puget Sound. He returned to Sumner for his first job in law enforcement and then transferred to Puyallup.

“I have basically been in the valley my whole life,” he said.

As an officer of departments surrounding Fife, Engle has worked with Fife police from time to time, so he knows the issues and challenges the city faces, particularly with differences between the mostly established neighborhoods on Fife’s eastside in contrast with the more transient and commercial west side.

“It reminds me of ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’” he said, noting that the split halves of Fife require targeting police activities, but also require everyone from business owners and residents to civic leaders and employees to be involved in keeping Fife safe. “It’s not all about people in blue driving in black and white cars. Law enforcement officers are busy. We can’t be everywhere all the time. Everyone is a spoke in the wheel. Fife is already doing a lot of things right in that regard.”

Engle will replace former Police Chief Mark Mears, who left the department last year to serve as the deputy director of South Sound 911. Mears has served the City of Fife since 2006, first as Assistant Chief of Police, then as Chief of Police in 2014 when he replaced Brad Blackburn.