Tenino’s New Police Leader Is First Female Chief in County, Mayor Says

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Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier passed on the city’s gold police chief badge to the Tenino Police Department’s new chief Kristi Lougheed after she raised her right hand to be sworn in on Monday afternoon — making her the first woman to serve as police chief in Thurston County, according to Fournier.

Lougheed, originally from Aberdeen, started her law enforcement career in 1993 at the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office and stayed there for about 15 years. She has since worked at the Aberdeen Police Department for about 10 years and the Cosmopolis Police Department for a year. 

The police chief position in Tenino was left vacant after Chief Robert Swain retired on Sept. 15. Swain, 62, died shortly after on Sunday, Sept. 20, the Tenino Police Department announced on Facebook. Lougheed said that Swain was involved in her hiring process and sat in on her interview.

Lougheed will oversee three sworn officers and three reserve officers with one open reserve officer position. She underwent and passed a background check, a standard psychiatric test and a polygraph test before assuming the position.

She has a degree in human resource management and worked for a time at the Washington State Healthcare Authority in human resources but found that a full-time desk job wasn’t for her.

“I think it’s valuable experience for dealing with management issues and things going on with the city payroll,” she said.

Lougheed spoke about working as a training officer for many years and the fulfillment she felt in that position. She said that as an officer it’s important to make sure fellow officers have the proper training and know the proper tactics. 

“That was my absolute favorite thing ... It’s great to watch someone go from being very unsure of themselves to getting their feet underneath them and letting them go and fly,” she said.

As police departments across the country face criticism after the death of George Floyd, who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by an officer’s knee — sparking nationwide protests — Lougheed said that she feels it’s important that police departments listen to criticism. 

“We may not be able to make all of the types of changes that people want to see immediately but it’s important that we listen and we give people the opportunity to tell us what they think is wrong. It never hurts to take a look at your procedures and policies and make sure that you’re being as fair as you can be,” she said.

Lougheed said that she enjoys working at a smaller police department because it’s more personal and she can get to know the community. She said that one of the challenges of a small department is retaining officers. 

“There’s nothing you can do about salary a lot of the time so you have to create an atmosphere where people are staying for other reasons — officers are getting the training that they want and they’re being respected in their positions. Things like that mean a lot,” she said.

Lougheed said that coming in she would like to work on building relationships with other agencies and the county. 

“I want to make sure we are working together in a positive way. I think that’s going to be one of the main focuses right off the bat,” she said.

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