Adrian Diaz looks to change Seattle Police’s ‘toxic environment’ as permanent chief

Sep 21, 2022, 1:47 PM | Updated: 2:01 pm
Seattle Police Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette and Assistant Chief Adrian Diaz are blocked by protesters from entering the newly created Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, Washington on June 11, 2020. - Two police officers attempt to enter the area, but are blocked by people standing close together and holding cameras as they film. The area surrounding the East Precinct building has come to be known as the CHAZ, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

As the newly confirmed Seattle Chief of Police, Adrian Diaz has come in with a laundry list of changes and improvements to help solve some of the biggest problems facing the Seattle Police Department, from historically low staffing levels to a rise in violent crime. He unveiled his plan to solve those issues in an exclusive appearance on KIRO Newsradio.

It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Mayor Bruce Harrell nominated Seattle Police Department’s interim chief Adrian Diaz to take over the position permanently, beating out the other top candidates, including Assistant Tucson Police Chief Kevin Hall and Assistant Seattle Police Chief Eric Greening.

Mayor Harrell appoints Adrian Diaz as permanent Seattle police chief

In a press conference about his decision, Harrell said, “Our police officers spent the last several years serving our community despite exceptionally challenging circumstances. You name the circumstance of difficulty … [Diaz] committed to supporting and retaining [officers]. Chief Diaz is the right choice for the job.”

Diaz has been doing the job of interim police chief for about two years after he took over from the previous Chief of Police, Carmen Best, in August 2020.

In an interview on the Gee and Ursula Show, Diaz said that one of the ways that he was looking to address issues of culture at the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is by working to train officers to better work with community members, as well as support officers in the high-stress work environment.

“I’m looking to change the level of a toxic environment for many of our people where it hasn’t been healthy. And a part of that is increasing people’s level of wellness,” Diaz said. “… Focusing on the social-emotional and brain development, trauma-informed practices, officer wellness, listening to the actual members in the community talk about the history of policing in the community, talking about why there’s a trauma of because of police brutality in the community, and giving them an experience very early on [in their training].”

In the aftermath of the 2020 George Floyd protests, many in the community advocated for the Defund the Police movement, looking to take the $30 million budgeted to SPD in 2020 and spreading that money around to other community programs like mental health services, social work, and addiction and recovery services as alternative ways to prevent crime.

The effects of the Defund the Police movement have been long-lasting, Diaz says, including how officers see their relationship with the community, with the department hitting historically low staffing levels: over 400 officers departed SPD since 2019. Diaz says that this movement has diminished, though, as the region has been rocked by record levels of violent crime this year — violent crime is up 12.3% year-over-year in Washington state.

Many in the community have asked that understaffing be addressed. Diaz is now in charge of hiring 500 officers over the course of the next five years. It will be a long process with officer morale waning as staffing struggles create long overtime hours for officers, but Diaz hopes that the worst is over.

“The trauma of losing a precinct, the trauma of potentially losing their fellow officers to other departments, the potential for being defunded, all of that created a huge weight on many people’s shoulders,” Diaz said. “Now we’re starting to get out of that.”

“I think the defunding movement is dead,” Diaz continued. “I think we all know that we see a higher increase of violence when we don’t have any officers out in the streets. We also need to make sure that we’re training officers in the right manner as well.”

He stressed that it is still important to listen to the community and address concerns, and one of the ways that he has done this is by changing crowd control tactics that SPD uses during the protests, saying that the department hasn’t used a ‘blast ball‘ or ‘FM 303‘ since 2020.

“I’ve had to reset that kind of accountability structure … when it comes to discipline. I’ve terminated close to two dozen [officers] in my time, which is the most of any chief that I know of. A part of that is I keep it very simple. Don’t lie, don’t be racist, and don’t commit crime. And I’ve held people accountable to those standards.”

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

My girlfriend can’t sing, should I tell my brother before she performs at his wedding?

So my girlfriend thinks that she's an awesome singer, but she's not. In fact, she has a terrible singing voice. It's almost comedy.
1 day ago
behavioral health crisis...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee and Ursula question King County’s mental health crisis response plan

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a new behavioral health crisis response plan that includes a network of five crisis care centers
3 days ago
Iran Protest...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Local business owner urges immediate action after death of Iranian woman

On Sunday evening the death of Mahsa Amini earlier this month at the hands of the Iranian police sparked protests 6,600 miles away in Bellevue.
3 days ago
Fall clothing...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Big Tech made Seattle’s new status as a fashion capital inevitable

According to an article from Esquire, Seattle is now an unlikely fashion capital. The Gee and Ursula Show explains why that new status was actually inevitable.
5 days ago
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Once Starbucks moves away from its ‘Third Place’ model, what does it have left to offer?

Earlier in September, Starbucks announced in front of shareholders its plan to move towards convenience and away from its “Third Place” business model.
6 days ago
(Credit Canva Pro)...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Is revealing the identity of undercover cops a freedom of speech issue?

Pierce County Superior Court has charged a 21-year-old man with a felony for revealing the identity of an undercover Tacoma police detective.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Adrian Diaz looks to change Seattle Police’s ‘toxic environment’ as permanent chief