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Despite differences, two Washington men find common ground on police investigation board

A new state agency will investigate police use of deadly force.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — They couldn’t be more different: a longtime police chief and a man whose son was killed by police. But the two are working together, heading up the search for the head of a new state police accountability agency. 

Legislation signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee created the new the Office of Independent Investigations. 

The law requires an 11-person advisory board to identify three finalists for the governor to select as director. 

Tukwila Police Chief Eric Drever and Pierce County resident Fred Thomas are co-chairing the board. 

Drever brings nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience to the search. 

“I can vouch for the credibility of our team and the independent nature of which we work,” said Drever. 

Thomas, a retired postal worker, has a different perspective on law enforcement.

His son, Leonard Thomas, was shot and killed by a Lakewood officer during a standoff with police.

The City of Lakewood ended up settling with the Thomas family following a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit. 

“I'm an expert in a field where it went wrong from A to Z,” said Fred Thomas. 

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But both men agree more can be done to hold police accountable when they use excessive force, and they believe the new office will do that. 

"There has been a narrative out there about well, 'There's just a few bad apples.' And I know I'm stealing the quote from somebody, but shouldn't we be the one profession where we have no bad apples?,” said Drever. 

Fred Thomas, who is raising his deceased son’s son, hopes the new office will make the community safer.

“To get to this point is a great start,” said Fred Thomas, “And now we're putting really diverse people together.” 

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