STANWOOD — Rebecca Mertzig will become Bellingham’s police chief June 1, according to a city news release Tuesday evening, April 19.
Mertzig, a Ferndale resident, is chief of the Stanwood Police Department and a lieutenant in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, where she is using her birth surname, Lewis, because that is how she is professionally known, she told The Bellingham Herald for an earlier story.
Her salary will be $196,884 a year, according to the city, for leading the department that is funded for 193 full-time equivalent employees. The police chief reports to the mayor.
An 18-year law-enforcement veteran, Mertzig was a member of the Snohomish County Equity and Inclusion Task Force and was Deputy of the Year in 2010. She also earned the FBI-LEEDA Trilogy Award for completing an FBI supervisory training course. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Eastern Washington University.
The three semifinalists were chosen March 8 from 15 applicants for the vacancy, after more than a year of searching for a new chief and after rejecting all four finalists amid a nationwide search and an initial round of interviews in June 2021.
The salary range for the position was listed as $162,720 to $196,884 per year plus benefits.
Chief David Doll retired in January 2021 and Chief Flo Simon has been serving in the interim as Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and the City Council have committed to re-imagine policing in the wake of the 2020 racial justice movement and a staffing crunch that has gutted its special units.
Simon, who was Bellingham’s second Black police officer, has announced her retirement, effective June 1.
“I am pleased to announce that Rebecca Mertzig has accepted our offer to be Bellingham’s next Chief of Police,” Fleetwood stated for the news release. “She comes to us with exceptional qualifications and experience. She has been a rising star in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, exceeding expectations and excelling in leadership positions. I am impressed with her experience, integrity and enthusiasm to lead the Bellingham Police Department.”
“It is an honor to be selected as your new Chief,” Mertzig stated in the news release. “I look forward to continuing the high standard of service provided by the dedicated and professional team at the Bellingham Police Department and I am excited for the opportunity to enhance public safety in my own community.”
Her appointment will be made final after the completion of a standard background investigation that is underway, according to the city.