After 16 years on the Richland Police force Commander Chris Lee is leaving to become Connell’s police chief.
Lee will replace Mike Cobb, Connell’s current police chief. Cobb retired from the Richland police department in 2020 after 38 years of service.
Connell City Clerk Dodie Phillips told the Observer in a phone interview that Lee has not yet started his new job.
Connell has about 5100 residents and about 6 police officers according to a Washington Criminal Justice Training Center advertisement for the job. The Connell chief position tops out at around $91,000 a year, significantly less than the around $130,000 yearly salary in Richland for someone with Lee’s experience.
Lee did not respond to calls asking for a comment.
The Connell Police Department was in the news in 2019 when Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond decided to end the working agreement with Connell. No deputies could enter Connell and Connell police officers could no longer conduct investigations outside of Connell due to the number of complaints filed by Connell officers against Franklin County deputies.
Raymond said at the time in a KONA radio report, “The best thing to do is, for a lack of better words, when you can’t get along in the sandbox, then we’ll separate and keep people in their own lanes so we can go about providing the public safety to our citizens that we serve.
”Raymond wrote the Observer in an email that the separation directive was no longer in effect. He also said, “Chris Lee and I have a long-standing professional relationship. We will work fine together.”