Law enforcement veteran Michael Villa is the Port of Seattle’s new chief of police, Port Executive Director Steve Metruck announced Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Villa brings 30 years of law enforcement experience to the role. He began his career in 1990 at the Tukwila (Wash.) Police Department, where he established community programs and a neighborhood resource center and was a leader in developing an initiative that improved school safety. He rose through its ranks to become its chief of police in 2011.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Chief Villa since he was a Commander with the Tukwila Police Department,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, a former Port of Seattle Deputy Police Chief, said. “He is an excellent collaborator whose decision-making always places the public and agency personnel’s best interest first.”
Villa came to the port as deputy chief in 2017 following his long tenure with the Tukwila Police Department and had been serving as interim chief since October 2021.
Metruck spoke of Villa’s leadership in the interim role, where he showed his vision and integrity during an extensive internal assessment, multiple legislative police reforms, increased transparency through the department’s published annual reports and Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement recertification, as well as the department’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Villa, who went through a lengthy hiring review process that involved a national search, a panel of stakeholders and a public forum, will oversee the enforcement at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the port’s maritime properties, as well as 130 commissioned police officers and more than 40 non-commissioned personnel.
Villa replaces former chief Rod Covey, who was fired 11 months ago after an investigation found that he violated the port’s Code of Conduct and Human Resources policies. Prior to his termination, he had been on administrative leave since June 2020 after being accused by a black port police officer of racial discrimination.