A sit down with the 3 finalists for Seattle police chief
Three candidates for Seattle’s next police chief are spending the week in town, interviewing with Mayor Jenny Durkan and meeting with various community groups.
The candidates include current interim Police Chief Carmen Best who has garnered considerable community support, Minneapolis Police Inspector Eddie Frizell, and Assistant Austin Police Chief Ely Reyes.
KIRO Radio Reporter Hanna Scott sat down with each candidate to discuss issues facing Seattle and their approach to them. Hear the full interviews with each candidate below.
Best addressed staffing levels within the Seattle Police Department, an issue that has drawn attention as two Seattle Police Guild officials allege many cops are leaving the force. Best didn’t address those allegations directly, but did speak to ongoing negotiations with the police union which still does not have a contract with the city.
I’m certainly hoping to increase our staffing levels to more people coming into the organization. That is some of the things that a contract will help with because we need to make sure our compensation is fair and comparable to other organizations here. We want to make sure we are doing targeted recruiting when bringing people in. And letting them know that policing is not just car chases and gun fights. It really is about service. There’s a number of folks out there who want to engage in public service. This is an opportunity to do that and we need to get that message out there.
Frizell noted that police officer training would be a priority for him so that all officers are on the same page.
To make sure that the boots on the ground would understand expectations, they understand the goals and metrics, and know exactly what the division wants to lead us to be. To move forward, everybody has to be on the same page with community connectedness and making sure all the stakeholders are at the table — we’re talking about businesses, various communities, ethnicities, everybody that has an interest in Seattle being the place that everyone wants it to be.
Reyes is a former police academy trainer in Texas. He would like to see changes at the academy-level where Seattle gets its officers. There are currently five to seven slots for SPD recruits per class.
I think it would be more beneficial to have a large academy that’s really tailored to the Seattle Police Department, so that when the officers come onboard they are taught the Seattle way from the beginning. Then they can come out into the city as a large group, and we can distribute them throughout the city and have them training in the areas that they are going to be patrolling and working in. That way they can get to know the communities before they are cut loose on their own and do the job on their own. And they can learn the communities they are going to be policing.
KIRO Radio reporter Hanna Scott contributed to this report.