Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Steve McDonald has been the Sultan Police Chief since September 1, 2016.
Lt. McDonald’s career in law enforcement began in Skagit County, where he spent two years in corrections. He joined the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in February of 1996, and has been the Sultan Police Chief since September of 2016.
His first nine years with the sheriff’s office were spent as a patrol deputy working in the north, south and east precincts, located in Marysville, Mill Creek and Sultan, respectively. He became heavily involved in ancillary duties, including the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and the honor guard. Additionally, he has been a field training officer (FTO) and an instructor in defensive tactics, firearms and active shooter response.
In 2005 he was promoted to detective in the crimes against children unit, where he worked until 2010, including six months as the unit supervisor.
“At first I wanted nothing to do with that unit. I had fairly small kids at the time and it was not only ‘no’ but ‘Heck no, I don’t want to deal with that,’” McDonald said.
Ultimately, he ended up loving the unit. It was a great group of people doing valuable work, he said. They were successful, managing to put abusers away in prison for long periods of time.
In 2010 after earning a promotion to sergeant, McDonald worked out of the east county precinct in Sultan under former Sultan Police Chief Jeff Brand. The process for becoming a sergeant is extensive, said McDonald, including rigorous written and oral testing. It also includes scenario-based testing in which the applicant is asked to navigate mock personnel issues, handle employee scheduling, prioritize orders from the undersheriff and deal with community contention in a fictitious block watch meeting.
“You have to get at least 70 percent. If you fail any of the steps along the way you’re done,” McDonald said. “It’s quite the process.”
Next, he spent about a year and a half out in the city of Snohomish, helping smooth the transition as the city became a contract city like Sultan. He always enjoyed working in east county, so when he found out that the position in Sultan would be opening, he initiated the process of promoting to lieutenant – a requirement for the east county precinct commander position.
He was excited about the prospect about returning to east Snohomish County, he said.
“I enjoy it out here. I enjoyed working out here as a deputy and I enjoyed working out here as a sergeant,” McDonald said. “This is the only spot that I put in for because I knew I wanted to give it a shot.”
McDonald said that he got into law enforcement to help people, particularly those who can’t help themselves. He is a strong advocate of Sheriff Ty Trenary’s mission of “Community First,” and enjoys the level of community engagement he’s found in Sultan. He has implemented monthly “Coffee with the Chief” events, so that residents can learn more about law enforcement in Sultan and the greater Sky Valley region.
In August of 2017 he kicked off bicycle patrols, giving himself and other deputies the opportunity to interface with the community in a way that is far more engaging than vehicle patrol.
McDonald lives in Snohomish County with his wife of over 24 years, Tracey. They have two kids; a daughter who is a student at Cal State University and a son who attends Western Washington University.
To view the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office press release about Lt. McDonald, please click here.