Pierce County Sheriff Retires

“Pierce County Sheriff Mark French announced last week he will retire July 1 after 30 years with the department. French, 51, was appointed sheriff June 13, 1997 by Executive Doug Sutherland.In a memo to Sutherland and Executive Director of Public Safety Charles Robbins June 6, French said the time had come for moving to the next phase of his life.While I don’t know exactly what this is, I know it includes my spouse, family, friends and my boat, he said. The untimely passing of several of my coworkers and department retirees reinforces the importance of family, friends, relationships, a higher power and balance in life. I intend to spend some time getting reacquainted with these things.Sutherland said he will appoint an acting sheriff before the end of the month following discussions with Robbins, French and others.Mark French has been an exemplary sheriff in all respects, Sutherland said. The sheriff faces a multitude of challenges in an urban county such as ours, and Sheriff French served Pierce County and its citizens with professionalism and excellence. He leaves the department in very good condition.The sheriff of Pierce County is responsible for 750 employees, including 330 commissioned deputies and 325 commissioned corrections officers. The department budget totals $73 million.French announced his retirement plans to his command staff following the department’s annual awards ceremony. Department employees were notified that afternoon by e-mail.Prior to being appointed sheriff, French served as acting sheriff following John Shields’ retirement in December 1996. French’s career began as a patrol deputy, and he subsequently served as juvenile division deputy/investigator, detective, field force shift commander, special services division commander, criminal investigations commander, strike force commander, field force commander, chief of operations and chief of corrections.French said in his retirement notice that the departmental relations with the community, media and employee labor groups are strong, that technology is being used to increase the department’s effectiveness, and that additional jail capacity is finally being provided through the $53 million, 1,000-bed jail addition construction project.We are a respected regional service provider, French said.”