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Jim Pugel
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Seattle council candidate Jim Pugel talks public safety

(AP)

Seattle City Council candidate Jim Pugel is perhaps closer to public safety issues than others aiming for the dais. That’s because he spent a bulk of his career with the Seattle Police Department.

“I know (Seattle Police Chief) Carmen Best well. I’ve worked around her for years,” he told the Candy, Mike, and Todd Show on KIRO Radio. “I know many of the command staff.”

Pugel was appointed interim police chief in 2013 by then-mayor Mike McGinn, following the retirement of Police Chief John Diaz. After serving in the role for roughly eight months, and then as Assistant Seattle Police Chief, Pugel retired from SPD in 2014. He then finished his career at the King County Sheriff’s Department, retiring last May.

Now, he is running to represent District 7 on the Seattle City Council. Current Councilmember Sally Bashaw is not running for reelection. A total of nine candidates are vying for the District 7 seat, including former FBI undercover intelligence officer Naveed Jamali. As of the start of April, Pugel has raised about $40,000 for his campaign; more than any other candidate.

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Given his history in local law enforcement, and Seattle’s ongoing effort to train its police force — in the wake of a consent decree from the Department of Justice — policing is likely to be among Pugel’s top issues. He says that he has heard criticism from the community and police officers saying they are too worried about being punished for using force on the job. A good example is the recent, tragic Lake City shooting.

“These women and men are very well trained, constantly retrained in scenarios and in real life,” Pugel said. “And they are constantly reviewed. I can’t see an officer responding to a scene and seeing an act of violence being committed on another and pulling out a checklist and determining what role or response she or he should do. They have this all committed to memory.”

“I find it hard to grasp that the well-trained officers … would respond to something as violent as this and say ‘We weren’t sure what to do because of the de-escalation policy.’”

“Having said that,” he added. “I do listen to a lot of officers and commanders and they say that the paperwork, afterward, that is involved in documenting all this – although it is necessary – it’s very burdensome. We are having our professional police representatives not only perform the work, then they document it for hours and hours afterward. As a council member I would look at that closely to see how we can streamline that, while also honoring the direction of the settlement agreement and the federal judge…”

Hear Pugel’s full interview with KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis below.

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