Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers
May 20, 2022, 3:09 PM | Updated: 3:18 pm
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
“The person I’m looking for, he or she will command the room and make everyone know that we have the right person in charge. They will not only embrace effective public safety, they will [also] not inspire a racialized or military militarized approach. They will understand our culture,” Harrell told the Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Newsradio.
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“They also know I need and demand seven-minute response times. I need and will have more officers, they have to be an expert in recruiting with me as well,” Harrell continued. “So I have high expectations, a strong vision for what the city needs. And that will be my final selection.”
Adrian Diaz currently serves as the Interim Chief of Police. A member of the Investigations Bureau before becoming Assistant Chief of a newly created Collaborative Policing Bureau, he also served as Deputy Chief and is now filling in for former Police Chief Carmen Best.
Best left the position after two tumultuous years as she and her police force faced widespread criticism, lawsuits, and legislation levied against the department during 2020’s massive racial injustice demonstrations, sparked by Floyd’s death.
Alongside assigning a permanent Chief of Police, Harrell addresses Seattle’s depleting police force as the number of officers continues to erode.
“They are clearly demoralized, they don’t feel appreciated,” Harrell said. “They have options, and they’re saying, well, I’m not appreciated, I really want to protect and serve. You know, I’ll do this somewhere else.”
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The police department set a goal of hiring 100 new officers each year, according to Harrell, a goal he acknowledges is a high bar to reach. His two-fold strategy is based on hiring new officers to put through the academy and laterally recruiting officers from other cities or states.
“Our officers are outstanding officers, and we have to recognize that. We have to hold them up,” Harrell continued. “And we have to help them build trust. And they will help us identify those areas where we need to improve and I believe that, and that’s my job.”
A more in-depth hiring strategy will be presented to the city council in roughly two to three weeks.
Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.