Seattle police Detective Bob Shilling waited for weeks, wondering whether he would get to accept a three-year assignment heading up the Crimes Against Children Unit for Interpol at the international police agency’s headquarters in Lyon, France.
The sticking point: While the city had earlier pledged to cover Shilling’s salary and benefits while he is overseas, Interpol required him to also have $200,000 in hand to cover his living expenses. The Seattle Police Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the Seattle Police Department, began a fundraising effort but only raised about $12,000, Shilling said.
Interpol extended Shilling’s deadline from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, but in a last-minute change, extended the deadline again to Friday.
That’s when the 61-year-old learned the city had come through and would cover the difference between what the foundation is able to raise to reach the $200,000 requirement from Interpol.
“It’s been such a physically and emotionally draining rollercoaster ride. You think it’s got to end and it finally did,” said Shilling.
Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess on Tuesday confirmed that Shilling will be able to take the Interpol assignment. Burgess said he worked with the Seattle Police Foundation, Police Chief John Diaz and the city’s budget office to ensure Shilling could take the job in France.
“The foundation has pledged to raise the $200,000 for living expenses and the city has agreed to cover any shortfall,” he said Tuesday.
Shilling is the first American to be offered the post. “I think it’s an incredibly positive reflection, not only on Bob but on the police department, for the leadership they’ve shown in investigating crimes against children,” Burgess said.
Shilling, a survivor of child-sex abuse himself, spent the bulk of his 32-year career in the Seattle Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit. He expects to begin working for Interpol in March or April.
“They actually pulled it off and I was pleasantly surprised. I was, quite frankly, read for the bad news,” Shilling said.
By coming through with the money he needed to take the job, Shilling said it “shows a real commitment on the part of everyone involved to do what they can to tackle child abuse.
“Having been an abused child, it’s been heartwarming to see how people have really rallied around this,” he said.