SPD interim chief speaks up on demotions of top brass

Pugel in April as Chief Diaz stepped down

Pugel addressed a media conference in April as Chief Diaz stepped down

Possibly fighting for a chance to keep his job and facing more criticism from the monitor assigned to ensure SPD is making progress on its promises to the Department of Justice, Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel has issued a statement following the demotion of two of the department’s top cops. In the statement issued Monday following last weeks’ demotion of assistant chiefs Nick Metz and Dick Reed, Pugel said he is “dedicated to preventing bias within our department” and is making sure “that SPD is supportive and fully participates in the city wide Race and Social Justice Initiative” –

Regarding Recent Leadership Changes In the Seattle Police Department

Written by  on 

As the Chief of the Seattle Police Department it is my responsibility to make tough decisions to help guide this department toward progress and constitutional policing.

I understand that the personnel decisions that I made last week regarding two assistant chiefs have not come without controversy.

In the past, some leaders in this department have faced criticism for failing to make difficult decisions. I do not wish for this department to be viewed as one afraid of change and progress, and I believe that the decisions announced last week were necessary and correct.

It is my job to ensure that this department has the leadership it needs and deserves and our department has the right leaders in the right places working toward reform and improvement.

I am dedicated to preventing bias within our department and have made sure that SPD is supportive and fully participates in the city wide Race and Social Justice Initiative.

The unusual statement comes as the federal monitor overseeing Seattle police reforms criticized the department’s lack of progress in a “second semiannual report” –

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 The monitor’s report also described frustration with SPD’s handling of officer-involved shootings:

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“It appears to the Monitoring Team that a struggle wages on at the upper command level for control of policy related to the consent decree,” the report reads. “If the current senior command staff remains in place and their attitudes toward the Settlement Agreement do not change, the SPD is unlikely to be able to achieve full and effective compliance with the Consent Decree.”

Pugel himself faces an uncertain future as Mayor Elect Ed Murray prepares to take office in January. Meanwhile, top brass at the precinct level could be in for a 2014 shuffle though no heads have yet rolled in the latest round. East Precinct’s commander Captain Ron Wilson will celebrate his 37th anniversary with the force next week. Wilson took over the precinct in the summer of 2012 after his work to form SPD’s “Community Outreach” section. Pugel moved up in spring as Chief John Diaz stepped aside following the Justice Department mandates.

An eight-month DOJ investigation of Seattle policing released in winter 2011 revealed troubling findings about the department’s use of force. In 2012, Justice filed a consent decree and negotiated a plan with SPD to overhaul the department. Under the watch of Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council’s public safety committee chair and mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell, SPD, according to the federal monitor, hasn’t made the progress it needs to. Of course, a new boss is ready to take over in January.

“The Monitor will expect to see less resistance and a greater commitment to change and innovation in the coming months,” the report concludes. “The Monitoring Team remains dedicated to monitoring and informing Judge Robart and the City as to the SPD’s progress.”

4 thoughts on “SPD interim chief speaks up on demotions of top brass

  1. Pugel should get credit for taking on a very difficult and challenging issue. Asking anyone to change is hard, but taking on the habits and inertia that old guard bureaucracy perpetuates, is amazing. Really….that man has guts that no one else has displayed….he is a police officer, and he is standing up for change.

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