Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick announced Thursday that she will apply for Seattle's police-chief job, which has never been held by a woman.

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After months of speculation, Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick has made it official: She will apply for Seattle’s police-chief job, which has never been held by a woman.

Her announcement Thursday came one day after The Seattle Times quoted an unnamed Seattle official as saying she would apply for the post.

Kirkpatrick, 50, who was out of town Thursday, made her plans known in a written statement issued by Spokane Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe.

“In an effort to be totally transparent, Chief Kirkpatrick has informed the mayor and city council and her staff of her intent to apply for the chief of police of Seattle,” the statement said. “However, to maintain the integrity of their process, she will not give any interviews nor make any comments about the process beyond this confirmation of her intentions to be a candidate.”

Kirkpatrick’s name has been swirling for months in the Seattle Police Department and Seattle City Hall as a potential candidate for the job, which became open when former Chief Gil Kerlikowske left last year to become President Obama’s drug czar.

She is only the second law-enforcement official to publicly declare plans to apply. Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz announced he would apply in March, when former Mayor Greg Nickels appointed him to the temporary post.

A police-chief search committee formed by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn began its work in January. It hired a search firm to help look for a new chief and launched a series of public meetings on Wednesday to let citizens weigh in about what they want in a chief.

The process will continue through May, when three finalists will be chosen and then presented to the City Council’s Public Safety and Education Committee in early June. McGinn will make his choice sometime after that, which must be confirmed by the full city council.

Kirkpatrick, who previously served as police chief in Ellensburg and Federal Way before joining the Spokane department in 2006, has carved out a reputation as a no-nonsense chief and strong believer in community outreach.

In her current job, her salary is $165,808. Kerlikowske’s salary when he left was $188,315.

In a story posted on its Web site Thursday, The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane reported that Kirkpatrick applied last year to be San Francisco’s police chief, but downplayed her action by saying that as a woman leading a large police department she is often recruited. The job went to another candidate.

The Spokesman Review also quoted Spokane officials on the possibility of losing Kirkpatrick to Seattle.

“I would hate, hate to lose her,” Spokane City Council member Nancy McLaughlin said. “This one concerns me a little bit because she has roots on the other side of the state.”

The Spokesman-Review reported that while support for Kirkpatrick has been mixed on the police force, she enjoys broad support from city leaders, who credit her with making officers more accountable and improving ties to the community.

“We feel Chief Kirkpatrick has done a remarkable job,” said City Administrator Ted Danek. “We’re aware of what her career goals are. We hope we can retain her.”

City Council President Joe Shogan, who leads the council’s Public Safety Committee, told The Spokesman-Review that he continues to have confidence in Kirkpatrick’s leadership.

“I felt bad the first time she applied” for another job, Shogan said. “Now it appears that she has her own career objectives in mind, and they don’t involve staying in Spokane.”

McLaughlin said that the chief should have the right to consider other jobs.

“I believe she can still serve Spokane 100 percent and still keep her feelers out there,” McLaughlin said.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com