citycouncil-JZ REVIEWED

Joe Zucker

New era ushered in for Kent police

Kent Police Capt. Michelle Lee was sworn in Wednesday night as the new police chief as during the Kent City Council meeting.

The city council chambers were almost filled to capacity with citizens and fellow police officers who wanted to honor both Lee and former Police Chief James Peach. The outgoing police chief was commended for his 37 years of service to the Kent Police Department. Peach was first named chief in 1996.

Peach referred to the advice first given to him when he first took over as police chief. Quoting Romans 13.1, he said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala presented Peach with a key to the city. Council Member Garret Ferrara also presented the former chief with a bottle of scotch. Fiala also announced that June 23, 2011 will be known as James Peach Day. City Manger Dave Ruller said he spoke for all of city council and everyone in Kent by saying that Peach will be missed.

Following the small ceremony for Peach, it was time to pass the proverbial torch to Lee. She joined the force in 1987. As a woman, Peach said that there were questions as to whether Lee would make it on the night shift.

“She had to deal with the dragons and vampires of the night,” Peach said.

He said Lee’s work earned her the nickname of “The Hammer.” She said she is looking forward to serving the community to the best of her abilities.

The police ceremonies were not the only items discussed at the meeting. A proposal to charge street vendors $1,000 to rent space downtown was sent back to committee for further discussion. The city council had previously approved the fee in a committee meeting and was putting the fee up for adoption.

A hot dog vendor who only identified himself as the “Dawgfather” spoke out against the proposal. After hearing the vendor speak, some council members voiced their concerns over what they felt was an arbitrary fee.

“We have to listen to people with concerns,” City Council Member Robin Turner said. “That is the job of elected officials.”

Turner also said that he was waiting to see if any citizens had concerns about the fee, and with at least one vendor critical of the fee, the issue warranted more discussion.