SEATTLE - Just after Thanksgiving, Seattle Police Detective Bob Shilling was offered his dream job - running the Crimes Against Children Group for Interpol, the largest international police organization in the world. Shilling would be the first American and the first municipal level police officer ever to hold the position. He accepted the job and started packing his bags for a December departure to Lyon, France, where Interpol is based.
Then things got complicated.
Shilling’s employer, the City of Seattle, agreed to keep him on the police payroll, but there was the sticky issue of living expenses. Interpol required a guarantee of approximately $200,000 for the three year post.
The Seattle Police Foundation began fundraising, but had only raised about $20,000 by January 1, when Shilling was required to provide proof he had sufficient funds to cover his rent and living expenses in France.
Now the City of Seattle has stepped in with a guarantee that should the Seattle Police Foundation be unable to raise enough money to pay for Shilling’s room and board, the city will cover the difference.
According to a letter sent to the Director of Interpol Washington and dated January 4, “The City of Seattle makes these assurances with an understanding that the Seattle Police Foundation will be successful in raising funds to offset the costs of Detective Shilling’s living expenses while he is on this assignment. In the unlikely event that the Foundation is not successful in raising these funds, the City will cover these costs out of its General Fund.”
The letter is signed by Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and Beth Goldberg, Director of the City Budget Office.
Shilling said he has been on a “roller coaster ride” for months. Shilling said that Interpol extended the deadline twice in order to give the Seattle Police Foundation additional time to raise funds. According to Foundation President Renee Hopkins, the Foundation has raised less than $20,000 to date, but fundraising continues.
Shilling said he will start his new post in France on April 1.
“My goal when I get there is to look and listen and see what needs to be done. We’ll put together an attack to do whatever we can to prevent child exploitation at the international level and to stop trafficking in children and the production and sale of child abuse images,” Shilling said.
Shilling has worked for the Seattle Police Department for 32 years, 21 of them leading the sexual assault and child abuse unit. He is considered a national and international expert on training police to investigate child sex crimes and on the handling of community notifications when sex offenders are released from prison.
“The fact that he was chosen speaks volumes,” said Hopkins. “It’s great for the reputation of the Seattle Police Department. But it’s not just good for the police department and the city. Most importantly it’s good for the fight in crimes against children internationally."