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Police union ‘angered’ after committee snubs interim Seattle chief

Former Seattle council member and mayor Tim Burgess, along with Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, announce three finalist for the next Seattle police chief, May 25, 2018. (Seattle Channel)

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Kevin Stuckey says union members are “extremely disappointed and angered” by comments that were made when a selection committee announced the three finalists for police chief.

RELATED: Three candidates considered for next Seattle police chief

A letter from Stuckey states that former council member and brief interim mayor Tim Burgess “downplayed all of the accomplishments and reforms” the department has done through over the past five years. According to the letter, Burgess said the department needs to hire someone from outside the department.

Stuckey told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz that Burgess’ comment regarding the need to hire outside the department was a “smack in the face.”

“Through the hard work of the rank and file officers, the department has achieved ‘full and effective’ compliance with the reforms called for under the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement,” the letter states.

Stuckey’s comments follow the announcement that Interim Chief Carmen Best is not being considered by the committee as a finalist. Best has led the department since former chief Kathleen O’Toole departed at the end of last year. Stuckey says Burgess downplayed Best’s accomplishments, which “is an insult to each and every member of the department who has achieved so much in such a short amount of time.”

According to Stuckey, there was a “secret committee of three” that chose the final candidates for consideration. Those finalists are 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.

The “secret committee,” Stuckey says, chose to ignore the qualifications of Carmen Best. It is “biased and discriminatory” for the committee to reject Best as a candidate because she works within the department, he says.

In the end, Stuckey says he knows the city can hire whichever candidate Mayor Jenny Durkan feels is best for the job. But he questions the process that led up to this point.

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