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Throwback Thursday: An Innovative Police Chief

J.D. ‘Jake’ Evans, former City of Auburn Police Chief, quietly passed away at his Ellensburg home on February 14, 2021, at age 78.

A white male with dark blonde hair in a light blue dress shirt and dark red tie looks at the camera with a closed mouth smile.
Chief Jake Evans | courtesy White River Valley Museum

Serving as Chief of Police from 1985 to 1994, he introduced a number of advancements in several departments that included an updated records management system and an officer awards program.  In 1988, the department was one of the first agencies to become State Accredited, meeting over 220 mandatory standards, as well as creating and maintaining a written policy manual.   The implementation of the highly-acclaimed DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program at the Auburn Police Department for over 20 years was another of his achievements.

Chief Evans received national attention during the famous Excedrin-tampering case. Stella Nickell killed two people, Sue Snow and her husband Bruce, by lacing Excedrin capsules with cyanide. Working with the FBI, the Auburn Police Department handled key aspects of the investigation resulting in Nickell’s arrest. She was the first person found guilty of violating the Federal Anti-Tampering Act.

Born in Dallas in 1942, he served four years in the U.S. Navy before beginning his police career as a patrol officer in Shelton, Washington in 1968.   He served in various capacities and ranks in Lacey, Washington and in Thurston County, including as Under Sheriff.  He received a BA in Community Services at St. Martin’s College in 1974, and his MPA at Pacific Lutheran University in 1979.  He graduated from the FBI Academy in 1982 and from LEEDS (Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar) in 1992.   Appointed Auburn Police Chief in 1985, he served the City for nine years.

A man sits at a desk behind bars. He is ressed in a jail inmate costume. The man is on the phone looking at a piece of paper in his other hand
Chief Jake Evans on the phone during a Fight Cancer Fundraiser | courtesy White River Valley Museum

After retiring from Auburn in 1994, Mr. Evans spent many years working as an interim chief throughout Washington State.  He was known by his peers for following the rules, his honesty, love for his profession, quirky sense of humor, and his strong beliefs.

Chief Evans was a certified single and multi-engine pilot and scuba diver, licensed ham radio operator, gun collector, RV owner (owning at least 10), and a Harley owner.  He is survived by his wife Sharon, his brother Jerry Wayne, his three children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild as well as many nieces, nephews, and three stepchildren.

The Chief’s son, Michael, shared his father was ‘very proud’ of his time at Auburn. Many have spoken of  Chief Evans’ ‘calm leadership’ guiding the Auburn Police Department to serve the community in such a way that the citizens of Auburn are proud of his tenure.

Per Chief Evans’ request, there will be no services.  A memory plaque was placed next to his first wife Rebecca (Becky) in the memorial garden at St Peters Hospital in Lacey.  Donations can be made to a Police charity of your choice, the American Heart Association, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, or the Washington Special Olympics program. No Flowers Please. Thank you, JD, for your lifetime of service. (Brookside Funeral Home, Ellensburg)

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