Former Evergreen police chief on need for rifles, differences with administration
Stacy Brown, the chief of Police Services at The Evergreen State College, has resigned after less than a year in the post.
“We are very grateful to Chief Brown for the leadership and professionalism she provided to the college,” Evergreen president George Bridges said in part of a statement provided to The Olympian on Tuesday. “...We wish her all the best.”
On Aug. 7, Brown will begin a new job as a Tumwater Police officer, according to Ann Cook, a spokeswoman for the city of Tumwater.
“She’s an experienced police officer; she’s local, we like that,” Cook told The Olympian on Wednesday. “We think she’s going to be a great addition to the force.”
Racial tensions brewed at the college during the last school year, and the unrest that broke out late in spring semester at the Olympia-based liberal arts college made national headlines. During a May 24 protest, some students held signs that were calling for Brown’s firing. Others held signs with messages such as “Black lives matter: End the injustice.”
Also during the protest, flyers were distributed in Red Square featuring a cartoon of Brown dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
Another employee who was protesters targeted, professor Bret Weinstein, recently filed a $3.85 million tort claim with the college, stating that college administrators “perpetuated a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment.” A tort claim is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit against a state agency.
In a statement provided to The Olympian Wednesday, Weinstein described Brown as a “model police chief.”
“We could not have asked for better,” he wrote. “She was unfailingly professional, despite being hounded by protesters who clearly wished to lure Evergreen police into public confrontation.
“The baiting and stigmatizing of Brown began at her swearing in, and continued throughout her tenure as chief,” he continued. “The fact that the college administration encouraged the frequently illegal actions of the protestors, and tied the hands of the police, made Brown’s job all but impossible.”
Weinstein said he’s still employed at the college. He is scheduled to teach “Adaptation: Evolutionary Patterns in Biological Space-Time” during fall quarter, according to the college’s online course catalog.
During a June 20 work session for the state Senate Law and Justice Committee, Brown said Evergreen is the only public university in the state that doesn’t outfit campus officers with rifles to use during an active-shooter situation. She said that decision was based on philosophical reasons and made by college administrators.
“It concerns me greatly,” Brown told lawmakers. “We should have rifles, in my opinion.”
Thurston County Sheriff Chief Dave Pearsall told lawmakers that college administrators asked Brown not wear her service firearm during a meeting with students, following the protests.
“I made a mistake,” Bridges told lawmakers. He said he apologized to Brown for that decision.
A group of 20 to 30 students disrupted Brown’s swearing-in ceremony in January, Pearsall said. Brown’s children were at the event, and the protesters were using vulgar language, he said.
“It was complete chaos,” Pearsall told lawmakers at the work session.
Bridges said the swearing-in ceremony was held later.
Brown is an Evergreen alumnus who worked for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. She was chief deputy of the special services bureau there for seven years.
Last September, she told The Chronicle in Centralia she thought leading the college’s police department would be a perfect fit.
“It’s a completely different style of law enforcement … a completely different culture,” she told the paper. “I have really been ready for a challenge for a long time.”
She replaced former police chief Ed Sorger, who led the college’s Police Services for nearly a decade, and retired Sept. 15.