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Carmen Best is back in running for Seattle police chief

Carmen Best. (KIRO 7 image)

Cameron McLay is no longer in the running for Seattle Police Chief and Interim Chief Carmen Best is now back under consideration, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has confirmed.

Archive: Seattle police eviscerate ‘misogynistic’ snub of Carmen Best

Best did not make the original list of three finalists for the job, which sparked outrage from fans of the longtime member of the Seattle Police Department. Former Councilmember Tim Burgess said this is largely because the committee felt an outsider would work well to enact change in the department.

Best stepped in as interim chief after Kathleen O’Toole stepped down as chief in early 2018.  With her history on the force and popularity among the Seattle community, many thought Best would at least make it to the final cut of police chief candidates.

“I completely understand that people are disappointed, for various reasons; that perhaps their candidate didn’t make it through,” Mayor Durkan said in May.

McLay, a former police chief in Pittsburgh who also spent 29 years with the Madison Police Department in Wisconsin, withdrew “following conversations on police reform” with the mayor, Durkan’s office told The Seattle Times. He’s in talks with the mayor’s office about becoming a special aide on police reform.

“I met with former Chief McLay, reviewed his competitive exam materials, and have spoken with a number of individuals including the Mayor of Pittsburgh about his work. He understands the complexity of policing and has been a national leader on police reform. In our first conversation in June, he indicated that his strongest passion is in reform. The Seattle Police Department remains under federal court order and is in a critical two year compliance sustainment period. This upcoming week, Federal Judge Robart has called all parties to court for a status report, and I was briefed by the City Attorney and SPD ahead of the conference,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan in a news release. “One of my key priorities as Mayor has been to sustain reforms while continuing to build our nation-leading police department. I have been exploring a range of options to not just sustain reform, but continue to improve the department to meet the needs of our fast growing city. We need additional expertise to help the City in assessing our path forward under the Consent Decree and our work with the DOJ and the Monitoring Team. I talked with Chief McLay this past week and we agreed that assisting on reform efforts was the best way he could help Seattle.”

McLay issued a statement, as well:

“As a law enforcement officer and former Chief of Police for the City of Pittsburgh, my passion has been on the processes for creating transformational change and organizational excellence. After a lot of thought about how I can make the biggest impact, and after conversations with my family and with Mayor Durkan over the last several weeks, it is clear to me that I can most effectively support Seattle’s continued reform efforts outside of the role of Chief of Police, which is why I’ve withdrawn from consideration to be the Seattle Police Department’s next Chief of Police,” McLay said in a news release. “It was an honor to be considered for the Chief of Police role in one of America’s great cities, and I look forward to continue my conversations with Mayor Durkan and the City about how I can best support Seattle’s steps toward meaningful and lasting reform, grounded in a firm commitment to the best practices of 21st century policing.”

Best will join Eddie Frizell, Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department and Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department as a finalist for the position.

The police chief candidates were chosen by a 25-member search committee, which included Tim Burgess — also a former Seattle police officer. The three candidates will do a series of community meetings and interviews with  Durkan this coming week.  The final appointment is expected in July, according to Burgess.

Seattle Police Officers Guild Vice President Rich O’Neil will join the Jason Rantz Show live on Monday.

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