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Mayor names committee, launches community survey as search for Seattle police chief candidates begins

Former Chief Best talking with media during CHOP in 2020 (Image: CHS)

Mayor Bruce Harrell has announced who will be part of the city’s 14-member search committee to identify candidates to lead the Seattle Police Department. There is also a new “community survey” to identify “what priorities and qualities matter most to residents.”

The committee will include Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez and Councilmember Lisa Herbold and a mix of city, business, and community representatives including former SPD chief and city council candidate, police reform advocate Jim Pugel:

SPD Chief of Police Search Committee

  • Council President Debora Juarez, Seattle City Council
  • Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Council
  • Lieutenant Scott Bachler, Seattle Police Management Association
  • Prachi Dave, Policy and Advocacy Director, Public Defender Association; Commissioner, Community Police Commission
  • Gabe Galanda, Managing Lawyer, Galanda Broadman, PLLC
  • Erin Goodman, Executive Director, SODO Business Improvement Area
  • Esther Lucero, Chief Executive Officer, Seattle Indian Health Board
  • Jim Pugel, former SPD Chief of Police
  • Robert Saka, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation
  • Rachel Smith, President & CEO, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Ellen Stone, Chief Executive Officer, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • Reverend Harriett Walden, Founder, Mothers for Police Accountability; Co-Chair, Community Police Commission
  • Natalie Walton-Anderson, Criminal Division Chief, Seattle City Attorney’s Office
  • Bishop Reggie Witherspoon, Mount Calvary Christian Center

CHS reported here on the search including Mayor Harrell’s championing of current Interim Chief Adrian Diaz to apply for the job. “As we work to make immediate and long-term safety improvements at 12th and Jackson, 3rd Avenue, and neighborhoods citywide, I have been pleased with Interim Chief Diaz’s approach and commitment to progress on public safety,” Harrell said. “Although I expect to conduct a robust search process, I encourage Interim Chief Diaz to apply.”

Diaz’s run as interim chief began in 2020 after Best’s decision to resign over what she said were frustrations with efforts to lay off police officers following criticism of her response to her handling of CHOP and the 2020 protests. Best said she could not be part of any layoffs. Her boss then-Mayor Jenny Durkan piled on, levying heavy criticism on the city council. “They wanted to micromanage and play mini police chief,” Durkan said. “Cut here, cut there, do this, do that. It showed a complete lack of respect and frankly a misunderstanding of how the department even operates.”

While the defund rhetoric has lessened in the two years since, the Harrell administration and Diaz have continued to beat the drum over the need to hire more officers.

The Harrell administration said this week a new website has been launched to provide updates on the Chief of Police Search, “as well as provide a comprehensive overview of the process, search committee information, and a survey for the community to give feedback on what issues matter most to them in the search.”

The website and survey are available in English, Amharic, Chinese (traditional), Korean, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Harrell’s office says the community survey results will be made public after analysis and “will help guide the search committee and Mayor Harrell with essential perspectives to consider when selecting the next police chief.”

In a report on 2021 community surveys regarding crime in the city, respondents in the East Precinct including Capitol Hill and the Central District continued to rate Seattle Police poorly and expressed some of the most cynical views in the city about the legitimacy and trustworthiness of the department.

The city charter requires the mayor’s office to conduct a search and name three finalists. The final candidate must then be approved by the city council.

Take the Seattle Chief of Police Survey here.

 

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