Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole stepping down

Kathleen O'Toole. (KIRO Radio)

Kathleen O’Toole will not serve as Seattle’s chief of police in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration.

Deputy Chief Carmen Best will serve as interim police chief beginning Jan. 1.

Over the summer, O’Toole addressed the speculation that she was leaving, after some questioned her role as head of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. She said she was not “walking away” from her job in Seattle. Though she softly denied she was leaving, she pointed out that her contract coincided with Mayor Ed Murray’s administration.

In an interview with Q13 in November, Durkan addressed rumors that O’Toole was stepping down.

“I have a very good relationship with Chief O’Toole,” Durkan told Q13. “And we’re going to sit down and have a conversation to make sure that what she thinks she needs and wants to do matches up with what the city wants to do.

“We’re at a really important time in police reform. But not just in the reform process, but what the department will look like. I’ve said it before, I love Kathleen O’Toole. I think she’s a great chief and I think it would be great if she would stay here. But I also know that in the life of leadership, there comes times when people feel like they’ve done what they’ve needed to do and it’s time for new people to step in.”

O’Toole began serving in Seattle in June of 2014. She has led the department to “significant success” in police reform.

“I want to thank her for her service as well,” Durkan said during a press conference on Monday. “She’s done a tremendous amount for the Seattle Police Department.”

Deputy Chief Best will serve while the city searches for its next chief of police. Durkan hopes to have a new chief of police by spring.