Should Seattle’s next police chief come from outside the community?

May 29, 2018, 6:33 AM

police chief, carmen best...

Interim Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. (File, Associated Press)

(File, Associated Press)

Seattle finds itself in a few nationwide job searches at the moment, including a police chief. On Friday, the selection committee narrowed that search down to three finalists, none of which are from Seattle.

RELATED: Why would anyone want to be a Seattle police chief?

They include Eddie Frizell, an inspector for the Minneapolis Police Department; Ely Eyes, assistant chief in Austin, Texas, and former Pittsburgh police chief Cameron McLay. McLay is the only candidate to have served as police chief.

“I think a lot of people are saying,’ What about the interim police chief? What about Carmen Best?’ A lot of people thought she was the best person for the job. It looks like they’re going to go outside the agency,” said KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill.

“When you look at Carmen Best, she’s from the rank and file, she’s a community police officer. People here really love her. But I think they’re going to bring in a reformist, someone who’s not from the rank and file.”

Best, a 26-year veteran of the department, took on the role after former chief Kathleen O’Toole left at the end of the year. As with the other candidates, O’Toole also came from outside the department. Mayor Durkan will interview the finalists and announce her selection by the summer, at which point the City Council will hold a confirmation vote.

In a public statement, Best offered congratulations to the finalists and agreed to stay on until a new chief is chosen.

“There is no greater honor than to have served as the Chief of the Seattle Police Department, in a city and department that I love,” said Best in a statement. “I want to thank the Mayor for the opportunity and have agreed to her request that I continue as Interim Chief until a new Chief is confirmed.”

“I wish the candidates the best. Each of them should know how fortunate they will be to lead officers who have a commitment to public safety and reform.”

The selection will be made under intense scrutiny. A federal judge recently found the SPD to be in “full and effective compliance” with the 2012 consent decree from the U.S. Justice Department. It ordered a reduction in excessive force and biased policing, which must be sustained for another two years.

“Our next chief of police will shoulder the incredible responsibility of protecting all Seattle communities,” said Colleen Echohawk, one of search committee’s co-chairs. “And building trust among those who have the greatest distrust of police and the criminal justice system, and who face the bias and institutional racism of our current system.”

Ron and Don


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Should Seattle’s next police chief come from outside the community?