The search for a new chief comes after Kathleen O'Toole stepped down on Dec. 31. Carmen Best, a deputy chief under O'Toole who joined the Seattle Police Department in 1992, is serving as interim chief.
Mayor Jenny Durkan cited local killings by police and of a law-enforcement officer as she opened the first meeting of a committee that will help her find Seattle’s next police chief.
The city’s police department needs a leader “who can build trust externally and internally,” with both community members and rank-and-file officers, Durkan said Monday.
The search for a new chief comes after Kathleen O’Toole stepped down as police chief on Dec. 31. Carmen Best, a deputy chief under O’Toole who joined the Seattle Police Department in 1992, is serving as interim chief.
“We have seen tragedies like Charleena Lyles and know very much the final thing that can happen when a police officer gets involved with citizens,” Durkan told the 25-member search committee, referring to the fatal shooting by officers last year of a Seattle mother inside her Magnuson Park apartment.
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“But we also saw the tragedy last night, the danger that police officers face,” the mayor added, referring to the fatal shooting late Sunday night of a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy who was responding to a report of a home invasion near Frederickson.
“I want to acknowledge the deputy, Daniel McCartney, who was killed in Pierce County,” Durkan said. “He was a Navy veteran, a father of three and only 34 years old.”
Seattle must equip its officers to “avoid tragedies like Pierce County suffered yesterday” and also know that interactions between officers and community members are critical, the mayor said.
Durkan said she’s confident the committee will “come up with three names” of candidates for chief and believes Seattle is “a destination where people will want to be police chief,” due to the city’s relatively low crime rate, its booming economy and the department’s progress on reforms.
After taking charge in 2014, O’Toole helped guide Seattle toward compliance with a federal consent decree requiring it to remedy a history of excessive force and biased policing. The city is awaiting a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart on whether to grant its request to find it in full and effective compliance with the consent decree.