Back in his days at the police academy, Bob Lee once said, few officers-to-be considered working for Auburn because King County was the bigger agency and had more to offer.
But four to five months into the job, the fresh-faced, then 21-year-old rookie patrolman changed his mind.
“I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m leaving,’ “ Lee told the Auburn City Council in 2016. “It provides everything a young person could want continuing in law enforcement.”
Stay Lee did, rising through the ranks from patrolman to sergeant on Feb. 1990, to lieutenant on March 16, 1997, to assistant patrol chief on Dec. 3, 2002 until, on Oct. 1, 2010, he succeeded former Police Chief Jim Kelly, who was leaving to take a job at the SCORE jail.
On June 22, Lee retires from the force after 37 years.
“I think that over the years, of all the people who have come here, very few have left because it’s an awesome place to work,” Lee said.
“I am going to miss him terribly, not only as a police chief but as a friend as well.” said Mayor Nancy Backus. “Our daughters played soccer together for many years, so there is that bond that soccer parents have.
“Bob has been a humble servant leader, and he leads with dignity, and honor and respect – he holds his officers accountable for their actions,” Backus added.
The Auburn Reporter was unable to speak to Lee himself Tuesday afternoon because he was tied up in meetings.
But, to offer a sounding of the man, here’s what he said about himself on his 1981 application, when he explained why he wanted to be a policeman for Auburn.
“I feel I have always been an honest and responsible person, and thus being a police officer would give me a great deal of satisfaction in helping others.” Lee wrote. “I understand Auburn is a small yet growing community, and I would like very much to be a part of the program.”