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An exit interview with departing Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett

A demonstrator wields a megaphone next to Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett as they converse during a 2020 protest. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Only at the helm for six years, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett has now taken a new position in Ohio. In an official exit interview with Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio, he told reporter Hanna Scott he feels a great sense of pride.

‘It was a tough decision’: Bellevue police chief explains decision to leave

“I know this sounds cliché, but I’m very, very sincere when I say this: I am so proud of the men and women here that I get to interact with in the police department every single day. We’re not perfect, but the heart of the police officers in the city of Bellevue is noble. They come out to serve the public every single day with a selfless attitude and looking to help people,” Mylett said.

He said he’d put the culture in the BPD up against any other department. But the focus on community and transparency was earned. Mylett walked into a department amid a rocky era of police misconduct.

Mylett and Bellevue city leaders quickly initiated the Tomorrow’s Program.

“The signature program that we developed early on when I got here and that continues to thrive in this police department is the Tomorrow’s Program, where we look at community engagement as our opportunity and our responsibility to effectively serve people that we’re sworn to serve,” Mylett said. “Looking for every opportunity to engage with the community.”

He said they’ve worked hard to keep the community informed on what the police department is doing.

The second pillar is process improvement, to make sure the police department is strengthening systems of service and working with leadership and the city council on the city’s vision. The third pillar is all about employee engagement, development, and wellness.

“If you don’t invest in insuring that you have healthy employees – and I’m talking physical well-being, mental well-being, emotional well-being – if you don’t invest your resources into that then you’re going to put officers at a disadvantage going out there to serve,” Mylett said.

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One of the chief’s more notable actions was when he sat down with angry protesters during rioting in downtown Bellevue last summer.

“The people in our communities want to be heard,” he said. “They want to be treated fairly. They want to have confidence that the systems that impact them are going to treat them equally.”

The chief said the decision to leave has nothing to do with policing laws or protesting, but his family.

“Long term, I want my children close to me and my grandchildren,” Mylett said. “Joanna has put up with me and my profession and demands on it. She deserves it. So when Akron became available, I looked at it. The community looks like a wonderful community.”

Mylett’s new job as the Akron police chief will begin on Aug. 9.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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