The search for Seattle’s next police chief narrows ahead of September deadline, mayor says

Aug 10, 2022, 3:24 PM
police chief...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

Mayor Bruce Harrell is confident that, by September, there will be a permanent police chief for the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

“It’s next month, September. We have a very diverse search committee. Sometime in September, we will start making our decisions and we’ll make some announcements,” Harrell said on the Gee and Ursula Show.

The mayor’s office is in the middle of hosting a series of five community forums meant to create opportunities for Seattle residents to share the priorities and values they are seeking in the city’s next chief of police.

“Everyone, whether they are activists, business owners, employees, I need to hear from the people on what they’re looking for, what means most to them,” Harrell said. “And then I talked to elected leaders all around, not just in Seattle, but around our region, on the state level and on the federal level, because I try not to make decisions in a vacuum.”

Adrian Diaz has served as interim police chief since September 2, 2020, following the resignation of Carmen Best. He was previously the deputy chief of the department.

Alongside the search for a new police chief, Harrell and Diaz announced a new recruitment strategy that included increases in recruitment staffing and budget, competitive hiring incentives, and relocation reimbursements.

Seattle’s police chief floats cutting back the number of officers at sporting events

“The first thing is, the officers themselves are going to be some of my best recruiters. I literally go to each precinct, sometimes 3 a.m., sometimes 11 p.m., to look them in their eyes, to hopefully motivate them, and talk about my belief in them,” Harrell said. “What we’re doing is we’re changing the narrative. Don’t forget I am unashamedly patriotic about the city and this country, and Seattle is an incredibly great city.”

Harrell’s goal is for the department to reach 1,400 police officers. There have been more than 400 police officer departures over the last two-and-a-half years, including 109 separations in the first six months of 2022, according to city data.

“In political work, you have to be louder, organized, more passionate, you have to do the hard work to push your message forward,” Harrell said. “And you’ll never get everyone on board. That is just not the nature of American politics. I tell everyone that believes in the vision that we’re creating with One Seattle, we have to work harder, we have to outwork everybody.”

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.

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The search for Seattle’s next police chief narrows ahead of September deadline, mayor says