Reconfirming Seattle’s police and fire chiefs every four years? City Council ready to talk

As things currently stand, Seattle police and fire chiefs are appointed by the mayor and subject to initial City Council approval, but Wednesday afternoon a proposal for regular reconfirmations every four years will be on the table at City Hall.

“By requiring the Council to reconfirm the public safety chiefs, it affords the Council and the public an opportunity, through a transparent process, to review the chiefs’ leadership, accomplishments, vision and decision-making approaches,” said Council member and candidate for mayor Bruce Harrell in a release.

Harrell who heads up the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee will take this idea to the Council Wednesday at 2 pm as a potential charter amendment:

Currently 13 department heads are subject to reconfirmation but the Chief of Police is exempt.  Wednesday’s meeting will continue the community process to consider a charter amendment. All proposed charter amendments must be approved by a majority of Seattle voters.

The committee meeting, as well as all public council business, can be streamed live from the Seattle Channel. Public comment will be taken. If you’re in the area though and wish to attend you can check the committee’s breakdown of the meeting:


Charter Amendment Discussion at the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee


Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.


Council Chambers, 2nd floor

Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle 98104


Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell

Councilmember Mike O’Brien

Councilmember Nick Licata

The Municipal League Foundation

The League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County

Meanwhile, the mayor’s office has introduced a new training program for SPD brass — and has directed interim Chief Jim Pugel to move forward on planning for a Seattle police academy.

Mayor announces new training program for police sergeants and commanders

City also to explore creating a Seattle Police Basic Training Academy

SEATTLE – Today Mayor Mike McGinn and Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel announced the completion of two initiatives of SPD: 20/20 – A Vision for the Future. Initiatives number six and seven call for new leadership training for all sergeants and commanders in the Seattle Police Department; program curricula have now been completed and training will begin next week.

“Our sergeants and commanders are charged with providing leadership and guidance to the officers who keep our city safe” said McGinn. “We need to make sure they have all the tools they need to be effective leaders and impart our community’s values to the officers they command. This new training program will ensure that all our sergeants and commanders are up-to-date on new procedures, and have the leadership skills they need to enforce those guidelines.”

Training for sergeants will begin early next week, beginning with the 11 new sergeants who have been promoted since May of 2013. The training curriculum will include:

  • An emphasis on the responsibility of supervisors for employee performance
  • Ways to improve employee performance
  • Effective use of technology in supervision and policing
  • Effective communication
  • Training on how to provide feedback to employees
  • Budgeting and supervisory fiscal responsibility
  • How to monitor, recognize and address biased policing, including what areas to monitor, understanding how actions are perceived and clarifying policies for employees.
  • Supervisory ethics
  • Leadership best practices from both public and private sector research and experience
  • Key elements of the Department’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) Workplan and their relevance to supervisory roles and responsibilities.

Training for commanders will provide a minimum of one week of training for all existing and incoming lieutenants, captains, and chiefs beginning in October. The curriculum will include:

  • Leadership principles
  • Command expectations
  • Best practice in accounting and budgeting
  • Public speaking
  • Department Messaging (understanding, mastering, and teaching top ten messages that are keys to improving performance and meeting expectations)
  • Political engagement from a public sector perspective
  • History of Seattle
  • Racial, social, and economic makeup of Seattle
  • Advanced RSJI training

McGinn also announced that he has instructed Chief Pugel to analyze the creation of a Seattle Police Basic Training Academy. SPD will begin by preparing a formal analysis of the process, staffing structure, costs, challenges and opportunities presented, in collaboration with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

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One thought on “Reconfirming Seattle’s police and fire chiefs every four years? City Council ready to talk

  1. It would be interesting to know what the rational was for excluding the police and fire chiefs from this reconfirmation process.