Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, who pledged to bring efficient business practices to the department, announced Monday that she has hired a top aide to fill a newly created position: chief operating officer.
In her first major appointment since being sworn in June 23, O’Toole identified her choice as Mike Wagers, who has most recently worked for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Alexandria, Va., as its director of Law Enforcement Operations and Support.
Wagers, who will hold a civilian position equivalent to a deputy chief, will be given broad authority, overseeing the Patrol Support Bureau, Administrative Services, Information Technology, Human Resources and Public Affairs.
His title reflects the business approach O’Toole outlined when Mayor Ed Murray selected her for the job from among three finalists recommended by a search committee.
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Wagers, who lives in Virginia, has previously served as the executive director of the Police Institute at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The institute, formed in 2001, seeks to blend research, problem solving and criminal-justice policy and practice, working in collaboration with community and law-enforcement partners.
Wagers, who earned a doctoral degree in criminal justice at Rutgers, also served as an assistant professor at The Citadel military college in South Carolina.
He has worked for BAE Systems, a global defense, security and aerospace company, in the information-solutions sector, and has consulted with police departments across the country, including those in Los Angeles, Denver and Milwaukee.
“He’s just a really good fit,” O’Toole said Monday, describing Wagers as a “nice guy” who respects police while demanding high standards.
She said she made a similar appointment when she served as Boston police commissioner from 2004 to 2006.
Wagers is active on Twitter, and his more recent tweets reveal a growing interest not only in the Seattle Police Department but also the Seattle Mariners.
O’Toole also announced the appointment of Mike Fields as the department’s interim human-resources director. Since 2004, Fields has served as the city’s labor negotiator, handling the Police Department’s collective-bargaining agreements.
He previously served as the department’s employment-risk manager within the Human Resources Section from 2002 until 2004, providing guidance on legal and personnel issues.
Wagers and Fields will begin work immediately.
“I promised Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle City Council, and the Selection Committee that I would bring best business practices to the Seattle Police Department,” O’Toole posted Monday on a department website. “I believe bringing in both Mike Wagers and Mike Fields is a great first step in that direction.”
In a tweet Monday, Murray thanked O’Toole for “taking steps to bring best business practices” to the department.
O’Toole also added a touch of intrigue to her announcement. “I’m also drafting some changes in the bureau structure and corresponding bureau assignments,” she wrote, referring to the six bureaus in the department overseen by assistant chiefs.
“I recognize that there are rumors circulating,” she wrote. “However nothing is final until my official announcement, which I expect to make in the coming weeks.”