Richland police chief leaving for Oregon job

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Richland’s police chief is leaving his position to serve as chief for the city of Eugene.

Chris Skinner
Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner’s first day in Oregon is April 30.

Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz noted Skinner’s demonstrated leadership abilities and depth of experience as qualities that are important to the department and the community and will help make him an effective police chief.

“Chris is known for building relationships, using innovative approaches, and leading by example. He has an authentic and inclusive leadership style, and we’ve heard from people across the Northwest that he is an experienced and well-respected law enforcement professional. I am confident he will lead our police department with fairness and compassion in a way that builds trust within EPD and with the community,” said Ruiz in a news release.

Skinner emerged as the top candidate for the position after an extensive nationwide search that culminated in a three-day interview process, including four community panels, a community forum attended by about 85 people and review of community input collected in person and online, according to the release.

Skinner will earn an annual salary of $153,171 in Eugene and oversee a $50 million department employing about 190 sworn officers and 140 civilians. Eugene has a population of more than 166,000 people.

Richland police Capt. Jeff Taylor will serve as interim police chief beginning April 21. Taylor was raised in Kennewick and is a graduate of Kennewick High and Columbia Basin College. He served in the Air Force for nearly six years before being hired by the Richland police in 1990. He’s been captain since 2010.

The city of Richland has initiated a nationwide recruiting effort in search of the permanent candidate.

Skinner has served as Richland’s chief since 2011 and has 27 years of police and public safety experience. He began his public safety career in Oregon with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked throughout the county, including with Oregon State University.

During his tenure with the Hillsboro Police Department from 2001-11, Skinner moved up the ranks from police lieutenant, to commander, and then deputy chief. While there, he had the opportunity to work with diverse populations and initiated a Domestic Violence Response Team to better serve victims of domestic abuse in the community.

In Richland, Skinner has focused on growing the police department’s communication and community policing efforts while implementing data-driven initiatives to reduce crime. He currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Tri-City Coalition against Trafficking and the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Taskforce against the Trafficking of Humans. Within his department, he also created an Internet Crimes against Children taskforce.

Skinner is a founding co-chairman of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Public Trust Committee which uses 21st Century Policing to guide work aimed at building trust between public safety agencies and communities across Washington.

Skinner earned a master’s degree in business administration from George Fox University and a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and psychology from Western Oregon University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

More than 1,300 people participated in a broad community input process last summer to inform Eugene’s police chief position description.

To read about Skinner’s first year plan in Eugene, click here: