A high-ranking chief in charge of the Seattle Police Department’s technology operations has taken a voluntary demotion to captain, less than two weeks after a federal monitor overseeing court-ordered police reforms blasted the department’s data-collection work.
Assistant Chief Dick Reed asked for the transfer in a highly unusual shake-up at the top ranks of the department, according to sources familiar with the change.
But one source within the department said it appeared Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel pushed Reed to accept the change in the wake of fallout from a Nov. 15 draft report in which the federal monitor highlighted significant lapses in the department’s ability to produce reliable data.
With Mayor-elect Ed Murray preparing to take office in January, the move fueled speculation that Pugel might be preparing to make additional changes among the five other assistant chiefs in the command staff, the source said.
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The department came under withering criticism in the draft report from the monitor, Merrick Bobb, who is collecting data to determine if the city is complying with last year’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Neither Pugel, a prospective candidate for the permanent chief’s job, nor Reed could be reached for comment Monday.
As head of the Field Support Bureau, Reed’s duties included supervision of information technology, along with human services, the 911 call center and computer analysis to predict where crime will occur.
Reed, 52, who joined the department in 1985, was granted his request to be returned to his previous job directing the 911 center, according to the sources.
Reed was promoted to captain in 2006 and served as director of the 911 center, where he led a staff of more than 100 employees. He became an assistant chief in 2008.
It is rare for an assistant chief to take a reduction in rank. Assistant chiefs serve at the pleasure of the police chief; captains fall within civil-service ranks.
Payroll records show Reed earned more than $123,000 as a captain in 2007 and more than $174,000 in 2011 as an assistant chief, the most recent year available. No information was available Monday on how the move will affect Reed’s salary.
Reed is to be replaced by Capt. Mike Washburn, 50, who joined the department in 1986.
Capt. Eric Sano, head of the Seattle Police Management Association, which represents captains and lieutenants, said Monday he learned of the changes in a department email.
Reed’s job as assistant chief was widely viewed by observers as being in jeopardy in the wake of the monitor’s draft report.
Bobb cited significant shortcomings with data collection considered essential to meeting the requirements of the settlement agreement.
“The Department’s Information Technology (IT) leadership had given incorrect or incomplete information to the Monitor and Monitoring Team and has proven itself unable to tackle the management of projects of import or complexity relating to use of force and other areas encompassed by the Settlement Agreement,” Bobb’s report said.
The report said the department’s capacity to track, analyze and use data were “at best, weak,” with “error-ridden” and “inadequate” results.
It said the department lacks the required data to carry out the settlement agreement and “manage the risk of unconstitutional conduct,” as well as the ability to respond to the monitoring team’s requests.
City officials were given 30 days to respond to the report, although its language appeared to challenge Pugel to take immediate action.
Pugel has said he and Bobb were “in discussions.”
Bobb’s report also cited resistance to reforms among some in the Police Department’s top ranks, though he didn’t provide names.
He also faulted the department over what he described as failures to conduct adequate reviews of shootings by officers.
Reed informed Pugel of his desire to take a demotion when the two met last week, one source said.
Pugel initially made changes at the top ranks of the department shortly after Mayor Mike McGinn named him interim chief in April, when he replaced retiring Police Chief John Diaz.
At that time, Pugel reduced Deputy Chiefs Clark Kimerer and Nick Metz to the rank of assistant chief in what was seen by some in and outside the department as an effort to shake up the command staff.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @stevemiletich