The second-in-command at the Island County Sheriff’s Office wants to wear the sheriff’s badge next year.
Chief Criminal Deputy Rick Felici threw his hat in the ring and is running for the elected position in November. Sheriff Mark Brown doesn’t plan to seek reelection and is retiring at the end of the year.
Felici said his philosophy of law enforcement is that there is not one solution to a problem, but that law enforcement must work together with community partners.
Among the biggest challenges facing law enforcement, he said, are drug abuse, homelessness and mental health problems; often the issues are interrelated.
“My platform is that we can make better use of resources we have by combining the tools in the Island County tool box,” he said. “We can’t arrest our way out of every problem.”
An example of this, he said, is the county’s opioid outreach program in which a deputy from the sheriff’s office goes out in the community with a public health nurse and an opioid outreach advocate.
Such a program, he said, offers police a different perspective on the issues they face while building positive relationships with people who may normally be wary of cops. It also fosters relationships between different departments, he said.
Brown said he supports Felici as his replacement.
“He is very honest, has a lot of integrity and a lot of history with the agency,” he said. “He’s very respected among his peers.”
According to Brown, Felici has a good understanding of how the county works and the importance of having a good relationship with the commissioners, who control the budget for the sheriff’s office.
Island County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme said he’s worked closely with Felici for many years and found that he is always thorough and fair.
“He has always shown that he cares deeply for his community and the individual persons who live in Island County,” he said. “Since Rick’s move into management at the Sheriff’s Office, he has shown himself to be a focused and effective problem solver.”
Felici has a wide range of experience in law enforcement. When he was in the Navy, he spent four years in security at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and was also a reserve officer for the Oak Harbor Police Department.
He steadily moved up the ranks in his 24-year career at the Island County Sheriff’s Office and worked on both Whidbey and Camano islands. He started out as a patrol deputy, then moved on to detective, detective sergeant and finally became chief criminal deputy in 2015.
In his current position, Felici is responsible for developing budget proposals and manages employees in patrol, investigations and the animal control divisions. He is a graduate of the FBI Command College and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Legacy Leadership program.
Felici is running as a Republican but believes the position should be nonpartisan.
Felici said he doesn’t have any political aspirations beyond becoming sheriff.
“I want to look back on my career and see that I accomplished something,” he said, “and made positive change.”