March 29, 1999
WOODINVILLE--Clint Olson, one of Woodinville's and the King County Sheriff's finest, retires this week after more than 30 years as a policeman. Olson, 55, leaves as a sergeant, having served as a patrolman, burglary detective, field training officer, and internal investigator.
"It's been wonderful," said Olson, who now plans to take the spring and summer off to just relax and do some fishing. "What was really enjoyable was helping folks in time of need, being able to guide them to a resolution in the conflict."
If there ever was an Officer Friendly, Olson, with his easy smile and quick laugh, was that policeman. He was surprised and honored by a packed room of city staffers and county officers last Friday afternoon.
Ever since he was a youngster in a King County neighborhood, Olson wanted to be an officer. He remembers sitting in a little coaster wagon next to the road in front of his house "pretending I was a cop with radar." After a stint in the U.S. Army, he was hired as a King County deputy on January 1, 1969.
Olson says he's learned a lot in three decades of police work that's stretched from south King County to Shoreline and finally to Woodinville. But one thing that still puzzles him is why people run from police. He's been involved in five high-speed chases over the years.
"In each, I wonder, why do they go? It would be so much easier to resolve it. I asked that question to one guy who'd run. He'd been drinking and run and hit a power pole, bailed out, and run on foot. When I caught him, I asked him why he'd run, and he said, 'I don't know!'"
Olson called his work in internal investigations a "really interesting assignment where we
policed the police." But he sounded sad about it as well, as if police should not only be held to a higher standard but live it, too.
Anticipating THE questions, he said, "Have I ever been shot at? No. Have I ever shot anyone? No. Have I ever drawn my gun? Yes. It's better to be prepared than ambushed."
Not everything was so deadly serious. As a detective, Olson had been assigned a Mazda B210, a
small, gutless car. One day, responding to an alarm, he put a "Cojack" light on the dashboard and raced north on I-5 to the scene as best the car could manage. Which wasn't much. "We just laughed and laughed and laughed. All those other cars were passing us," he recalled.
Olson was promoted to a sergeant in 1994 and was transferred to the south end, then to Shoreline in 1996, then to Woodinville in 1997. "My assignment in Woodinville has been ideal. I'll miss it. [There's been] a good working environment, good rapport, good relations," he said, who lives in the area. He'll remain in public service as an appointed commissioner for the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District, and is considering running for public election to the post this fall.
Olson said he's enjoyed the love and support of his wife and four children as a policeman. He added that there's three things he'll miss about being a cop: contacting the public; the teamwork it takes to resolve criminal activities; and "knowing what's going on and sharing it with the community."
"I know when I hear the sirens going, I'll wonder what's going on," Olson said.