In a major department shake-up, all four of the Seattle Police Department’s assistant chiefs have been notified they will not retain their positions and face demotions.
All four of the Seattle Police Department’s assistant chiefs have been notified that they will not retain their positions and will face demotions, setting the stage for a wholesale change in the top ranks.
The four were earlier given the opportunity to reapply to retain their jobs but were told Monday by Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole they had not been selected.
The move means O’Toole plans to name four new assistant chiefs in a major reorganization that a department source said will include two outsiders and two from within the department.
They will form a new command staff at a time when the department is under a federal court order to address excessive force and biased policing.
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The four current assistant chiefs are Robin Clark, who oversees detectives and investigations; Paul McDonagh, who is in charge of the Special Operations Bureau, which includes homeland security; Tag Gleason, who is responsible for handling the federally mandated reforms; and Mike Washburn, who oversees the Field Support Bureau, which includes the 911 call center and data-driven policing.
The four will be demoted to their civil-service rank of captain unless any choose to retire, sources told The Seattle Times. Former Assistant Chief Nick Metz, who oversaw patrol operations, recently left to become the police chief in Aurora, Colo.
“Today I had a discussion with the four current SPD Assistant Chiefs,” O’Toole, who became chief in June, said in a statement Monday. “I explained that I would be announcing a new leadership team on Wednesday, and sincerely thanked them for their service on the command staff. On a personal level, I have enjoyed working closely with them for the past eight months. Each of them has served this community well for decades and has made enormous contributions to the SPD.”
Deputy Chief Carmen Best, appointed by O’Toole last year to the department’s No. 2 position, will remain in that position.
Washburn’s position will remain unfilled for now and the duties will be handled by others in the department, according to department sources.
The overhaul of the command staff represents O’Toole’s most significant personnel moves, fulfilling her pledge to form her leadership team after evaluating the current brass and others in the department.
The shake-up comes at a time when the department’s management union has challenged a city ordinance, enacted in January 2014, which gave the police chief the unfettered ability to hire outsiders as assistant and deputy chiefs.
The Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), which represents more than 60 captains and lieutenants, maintains the city was required to bargain with the union before it repealed a 1978 ordinance that required assistant and deputy chiefs to be hired from among lieutenants and captains in the department. It is awaiting an official ruling.
City officials have said giving the police chief the freedom to hire outsiders was crucial to attracting top candidates during last year’s nationwide search for a new chief, and carrying out reforms under a 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.
O’Toole has said members of the city selection committee that interviewed her for the job made clear they wanted “new blood” from outside the department.
In January, O’Toole opened the department’s assistant-chief jobs to competition, accepting internal applications from anyone with the rank of lieutenant or above, including the current assistant chiefs, and from outside candidates. Her search drew 94 applications, including 22 from inside the department.
Each of the current assistant chiefs applied to remain on the command staff, according to a department source.