By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
Monroe resident and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. James Upton was one of two candidates interviewed for the position of Snohomish County Sheriff on June 25.
Upton and his opponent, Captain Ty Trenary, also of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, interviewed before the Snohomish County Council, who announced their decision to appoint Trenary, a 22-year sheriff’s office veteran, as the new interim Sheriff on July 1. Both candidates are planning to run in the 2014 and 2015 elections.
The position was vacated by former Sheriff John Lovick on June 3. Lovick transitioned out of the Sheriff’s office to become Snohomish County Executive, filling the position vacated by Aaron Reardon.
After his interview, Upton had been hopeful.
“Maybe they saw that I am the guy that really needs this job because I really and truly do have that burning desire to make a difference,” said Upton.
Now Upton is looking forward to running in next year’s special election. The 2014 election will determine who will serve out the remaining year of the current term. There will then be a regular election in 2015 for the next four-year term.
“I felt honored to be included in the selection process for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s position,” said Upton. “While the outcome is not exactly like I would have preferred, the county council has made a decision I feel that was within the process. I congratulate Sheriff Trenary on his appointment and look forward to the reconstruction process of the Sheriff’s office and operations.”
County council stated in their July 1 press release that they felt both candidates were “strong.”
“It was a difficult decision as both individuals brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the process, albeit from different backgrounds,” said Sky Valley councilmember Dave Somers in the press release. “From our discussions with the candidates it became clear that both are dedicated to helping the department move forward while maintaining its position as one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the state.”
Upton served for over 21 years in the United States Navy. He left for boot camp in 1977, when he was 17 years old. He completed several programs while in the Navy, including submarine, surface and aviation warfare, becoming Master Chief in 18 years, a relatively short amount of time. He received his Bachelor of Science degree at George Washington University.
“As I got farther up the chain of command, and I started getting responsible for more and more people; that’s where I truly found my love,” said Upton, reflecting on his military career. “It’s not about what I can get from you; it’s about what I can do for my people.”
Upton’s shift into law enforcement came naturally to him.
“I had always wanted to do police work,” said Upton.
Stationed in Everett as Command Master Chief at the Naval Branch Medical Clinic, Upton saw an ad in the paper for a law enforcement reserve program for the city of Snohomish. He signed up, at times volunteering in between 30 and 40 hours per week.
“I just loved it,” said Upton.
This eventually inspired him to retire from the Navy and seek out police work full-time, going to work for the city of Snohomish Police Department, where he achieved the rank of sergeant after two years of employment.
Upton worked for the city of Snohomish for over three years before transitioning over to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in 2002. Since working at the Sheriff’s office, Upton has worked south county, east county, been a contract officer for the city of Gold Bar, and has been a patrol sergeant for both east and south county.
Upton has received two certificates of merit during his time at the Sheriff’s office. One of these was for organizational development, where he was recognized for his extensive work in recruiting, hiring and training new police officers.
The other certificate of merit was for his work during an active shooter situation in Index. Upton successfully disarmed a suspect who had fatally shot a neighbor.
He is currently a detective sergeant out of the south precinct in Mill Creek where he works in property crimes and supervises other detectives. Upton examines all aspects of property crimes including theft, shoplifting, malicious mischief, fraud and residential burglaries. He has recently spearheaded an action plan designed to reduce residential burglaries in the south county by 10 percent.
Upton has been married for 33 years, has two daughters, and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.
He feels that people are the greatest asset to any organization.
“John Lovick used to say that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is the face of county government, and I believe it,” said Upton.
Upton’s concern is with the health of the Sheriff’s office, feeling that the healthier the Sheriff’s office is, the better equipped the deputies will be at doing their job, resulting in an increased ability to effectively care for the citizens of Snohomish County.
“The citizens must remain our focus and the improvement in morale and esteem of the department will only serve to improve our collective levels of safety. Once again I thank the cou