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Friday, April 25, 2014

Here They Are! The Final Four Candidates For Seattle's New Police Chief

Posted by on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Investigation.jpg
  • City of Seattle
They're from Arizona, Massachusetts, and California, according to KIRO:

Robert Lehner, Chief, Elk Grove Police Department
Lehner has 30 years of law enforcement experience and previously served as the police chief in Eugene, Ore., according to his biography. Prior to that, he served as an assistant police chief for the Tucson Police Department. Read more about Chief Robert Lehner here.

Patrick Melvin, Chief, Salt River Police Department
Melvin served for 21 years on the Phoenix Police Department before retiring at the rank of commander, according to his biography. He went on to serve as police chief in Maricopa, Ariz. Read more about Chief Patrick Melvin here.

Frank Milstead, Chief, Mesa Police Department
Milstead has led the Mesa Police Department since 2010, following a 25-year career with the Phoenix Police Department, according to his biography. Read more about Chief Frank Milstead here.

Kathleen O'Toole, former Police Commissioner, Boston Police Department
O'Toole began her career in law enforcement in Boston in 1979, according to her bio. She rose through the ranks to become Boston Police Commissioner in 2004. She currently heads a private consulting firm in Boston. Read more about Kathleen O'Toole here.

"The candidates that we have now are all reformers," police chief search committee co-chair Pramila Jayapal, who confirmed the names, tells me by phone. "They have all, in different ways, been very involved in building or transforming police departments...none of them is a sit-on-your-hands, take-whatever-comes kind of person."

I asked her whether the Seattle Police Officers' Guild (SPOG), which has grown in influence and set back the reform process under Mayor Ed Murray, has had an impact on the search so far—SPOG President Ron Smith sits on the 12-member search committee. "So far in the committee process, they [SPOG] haven’t been different than anybody else," she says—in fact, she couldn't recall a single time Smith had disagreed on something with her.

"Of course, once we get somebody in and they make the changes they need to make, we’ll see what happens then," Jayapal says. "But from my perspective, the discussions have been pretty uniform." She says they'll continue to vet the candidates in the coming weeks, then recommend the best three to Murray, who expects to choose one by mid-May.

 

Comments (59) RSS

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1
I'm not saying it's impossible that the two candidates from AZ are ok guys, but AZ is so fucked up that it makes me nervous about either of them being Chief.
Posted by JenV on April 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM · Report this
2
How is Arizona any more fucked up that Washington?
Posted by say what again motherfucker, I dare you on April 25, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
3
@2, Seriously? Just off the top of my head: SB 1062? SB 1070? Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Generally being a hotbed of nutty tea party libertarians?
Posted by JenV on April 25, 2014 at 7:13 PM · Report this
4
Oh and I forgot to mention Gov. Jan Brewer.
Posted by JenV on April 25, 2014 at 7:13 PM · Report this
seatackled 5
@1
San Francisco's former police chief, subsequently appointed district attorney, was from Arizona, I think. He wanted to do some dangerous stuff like bring in Tasers, I think, but was prevented from doing so.

And heck, actually, all three of the men are from Arizona law enforcement. The first candidate on the list, from Eugene, was in Tucson before that.

But read that link for O'Toole. She's gonna bring the drones with her.
Posted by seatackled on April 25, 2014 at 7:21 PM · Report this
seatackled 6
@2, @4:

Also, Arizona is where Shawna Forde moved to from Washington. Case closed.
Posted by seatackled on April 25, 2014 at 7:32 PM · Report this
7
O'Toole's department improperly used "less-lethal" weapons on a bunch of drunk kids, killing one of them in my backyard via a pepper ball to the eye.

Who's fault was it? The kids themselves. "Punks."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Vi…
Posted by UberAlles on April 25, 2014 at 8:23 PM · Report this
8
None of them are acceptable.
Posted by Pol Pot on April 25, 2014 at 8:52 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 9
Good lord. What a shit show.
Posted by Soupytwist http://twitter.com/katherinesmith on April 25, 2014 at 9:01 PM · Report this
guerre 10
"in fact, she couldn't recall a single time Smith had disagreed on something with her"
Well that clears it up for me, the president of SPOG and a member of the Murray administration have never disagreed. Defffffintely proof that Murray isn't just towing the SPOG line.
Posted by guerre on April 25, 2014 at 9:30 PM · Report this
11
Wow.

Doesnt look like a single one is capable (or would even be willing to) whip this overly violent, racist, corrupt and costly Seattle PD brute squad into shape.

What a shame. Im guessing Seattle does the same thing Minneapolis did when it had similar problems with its police department and hire the female candidate. Not because as a female shes less likely to give a pass to officer abuse (as in minneapolis), but because she is a good voter mascot.

"VOTE FOR ME CITIZENS...I choose a female candidate for the broken SPD...nevermind she is no different than the last 3 (4?) male candidates and will maintain the culture of unaccountability, racism and abuse that the SPD have grown...she has a vagina thus she must be progressive!"
Posted by araucania on April 25, 2014 at 9:32 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
Bringing the spirit of Joe Arpaio to Seattle is the worst imaginable outcome here. Fucking fuck. Before I will endorse any of these people I want to hear from their mouths "Joe Arpaio is an enemy of humanity and should be in prison". AZ is suspect on the face of things.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on April 25, 2014 at 10:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
So ... Basically, you're saying Seattle is fucked ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 25, 2014 at 10:09 PM · Report this
Hawke 14
Ed Murray: SPOGsucker.
Posted by Hawke http://facebook.com/thehawke on April 25, 2014 at 11:09 PM · Report this
15
Look fine to me hippies will never be happy.
Posted by Seattle14 on April 26, 2014 at 1:10 AM · Report this
16
gud sentense
Posted by spel chekr on April 26, 2014 at 2:43 AM · Report this
17
Actually, Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson are progressive cities. My vote's with Patrick.
Posted by pat L on April 26, 2014 at 7:14 AM · Report this
18
I don't have enough information about the inner department scandals some of you are discussing. But as a relative newbie to the city, I would want a police chief who focuses on crime reduction and 911 response time. And whose officers are respectful towards people who are mere demonstrators. One has a very impressive security management background - with these sports events and so on -- as well as abilities in information management streaming that can make a department more efficient -- but he does look overly focused on filming and recording everybody, not crime solving. The woman candidate seems more with the politicians; she also has this emphasis on filming everything, though her attitude is a bit more measured with respect to people's constitutional rights. She also doesn't say about crime reduction and 911 response time. The other two seem less flashy, so I would tend to go with one of them. One has a lot of minority background, which is a plus; but he's heavy on *just traffic* which is a negative. He has an education degree - that's a plus. The other comes from Eugene, much smaller than Seattle, but a progressive town - a plus. He seems a little more on the normal level - not up in these clouds with the politicians and not totally caught up in screening for terrorism - which concerned me, for example, the 4th of July. They had the whole police force out looking for terrorists, when the real problems were much less spectacular - a bunch of idiots shooting fireworks into the boat community; they started a major fire while the police were too busy with what really amounted to a non-existent issue. I might go with him. But it's hard to say all around. It looks complicated, especially given the other issues people are talking. But definitely, someone who can reduce crime - violent crime - on buses, make areas of the city safer, make 911 response time fast. That's what concerns me, most.
More...
Posted by Just Some Thoughts on April 26, 2014 at 7:31 AM · Report this
19
They need more police on the beat in a lot of areas, it seems to me. You can't replace the human aspect of policing with recording and technology. I like community policing approaches - get police on bikes in areas - many more - I think one of the last two I mentioned something about community policing. Coming to Seattle from a community that had a much, much lower crime rate - that's something we had - police on bikes in parks and trails - or just in neighborhoods in general. It's a deterrent - it's very important. And this filming and recording - obsession with it -- it sets up a whole other dynamic in the community's relationship with the police. Instead of talking and relating, everybody's recording one another. (Don't get me wrong - I understand the importance at times - but there are problems with that, too.) Not only that, but, sure you have something on film - but what about the fact that it's after the fact? Someone was already assaulted, already robbed. Yes, you have evidence, now, but if police had been walking or biking or driving through the area, it might not have happened to begin with. Seattle needs more police officers on the beat. Some things people do - human beings - you can't replace with technology. You need more people, period.
Posted by Just Some Thoughts on April 26, 2014 at 7:46 AM · Report this
20
@17 Phoenix and Tempe are certainly not progressive cities. I lived in Tempe for 15 years. There are some progressive elements in Tempe -- ASU is a big influence -- such as electing a gay republican as a mayor (if that's progressive...), and compared to most of the rest of AZ Tempe seems progressive. Phoenix, much less so. But compared to Sun City, rural Arizona, Mesa, Chandler, etc., sure, they seem progressive. But compare Phoenix or Tempe to any real progressive West Coast city, and they're not looking too progressive.

Tucson, however, is fairly progressive. The Chief of Police stood up to the right wing gun nuts following the Giffords, et al., shooting and has been progressive on some elements of immigration. The city is actually pretty wonderful in a lot of ways, and the police there aren't as problematic as they are in Tempe, Phoenix, and Maricopa County.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on April 26, 2014 at 7:56 AM · Report this
21
Totally with @1. Phoenix PD is a mess, AZ is among the most corrupt states in the country. Avoid the AZ candidates, at all costs.
@17 - Phoenix is definitely NOT progressive. I grew up there, and it's gone backwards from what it was when I was in HS and college. Tucson - yes, it is progressive, and to some extent, so is Flagstaff (moreso than Phoenix or Tempe - that's for damn sure), but Phoenix? Ha. AZ used to be a Democratic state, with mostly Dems in charge and some moderate GOPs. Now its all GOP, and those state and local legislators try to out-extreme each other on how far right they can go. GOPs have been run out of office - like my stepfather was - for not being extreme enough.
Sorry, but they all suck. Bring back Jim Pugel.
Posted by StuckInUtah on April 26, 2014 at 8:18 AM · Report this
22
Just off the top of my head, O'Toole is not a good candidate because she has been there, done that, and has gone into the private sector to make money and be a consultant. That's a good step for her at this point in her long career. Why would someone want to head the SPD when they have been comish of Boston and had a career working through the ranks for years there? The only reason I can think of is that she wants to live in Seattle, not a great reason to take the job. I say someone who is hungry and wants to prove herself. She's done.
Posted by sablefish on April 26, 2014 at 9:04 AM · Report this
23
pretty simple math here. hundred bucks on the drone chick.
Posted by Im always right on April 26, 2014 at 10:24 AM · Report this
24
Which one fired any cop anywhere for excessive force?
Any?
Which fired any cop internal discipline head for not disciplining.cops??
Any?

Posted by data needed on April 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM · Report this
basmatic 25
Milstead is a terrible administrator. He has slews of EEOC claims against the department since he took over.
Posted by basmatic on April 26, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
seatackled 26
@22
Why did Dick Cheney want to be VP?
Posted by seatackled on April 26, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
27
You people elected Ed Murray, now live with your choice.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on April 26, 2014 at 3:51 PM · Report this
28
Oh, and don't worry about the Arizona red necks, Murray will go for O'Toole. Enjoy the drones, Seattle...
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on April 26, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
29
@27

You say that as if McGinn (and Nickels before him) were not doing the exact same thing.
Posted by araucania on April 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
30
Can't Seattle just do a mass SPD and SPOG firing and completely start over, as long as the feds are investigating?

How does any Seattleite with good, common sense manage to get a good night sleep, anymore (please don't say it, Arthur)?
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 26, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
31
Why are my comments on this Blog underlined in Bold type?
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 26, 2014 at 5:37 PM · Report this
32
He'll go with the broad, just for the sake of diversity. He's all style and no substance. Honestly, she seems the less egregious of them all, but SPD isn't so progressive that they'll welcome her.
Posted by mandyv on April 26, 2014 at 6:20 PM · Report this
33
Yeah, what's up with the underlining and bold...?
Posted by mandyv on April 26, 2014 at 6:21 PM · Report this
seatackled 34
probably because someone left a bold tag open and also an italics tag and an underline tag. Let's see if I manage to fix close them here.
Posted by seatackled on April 26, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
35


Someone opened tags, hopefully this closes them.
Posted by gnossos on April 26, 2014 at 6:52 PM · Report this
seatackled 36
Bingo. But I didn't manage to proofread. Sorry.
Posted by seatackled on April 26, 2014 at 6:52 PM · Report this
37
@30: no, that's part of the problem that a lot of folks don't understand. The overwhelming majority of SPD staff enjoy both union and civil service protection. Basically the only people that can be fired w/out a long process are upper level appointed command staff (asst or deputy chiefs).

And the agreement w/SPOG really limits the ability to get rid of folks.
Posted by gnossos on April 26, 2014 at 6:57 PM · Report this
38
Pramila Jaypal is a nitwit and a a one-note wonder on the rights of illegal immigrants. Why in God's name is co-chairing the search committee for police chief? This fucking city never ceases to astound me.
Posted by Billy Chav on April 27, 2014 at 1:02 AM · Report this
39
@30, 37 - so you think Washington should switch to being a right to work state?
Posted by Bax on April 27, 2014 at 7:53 AM · Report this
seandr 40
Ed Murray, you boot out Pugel and come back with this?

You suck at being mayor.
Posted by seandr on April 27, 2014 at 9:43 PM · Report this
41
@37 gnossos: And it sounds like this is just one of many reasons why Seattle's police system is as screwed as it is. Union protection is good, but the SPD and SPOG are being run by corrupt people.

@39 Bax: No. Unions are set in place to protect employees, and offer the benefits they deserve. However, Seattle's police force and its union are listed among the most corrupt-as-fuck law enforcement organizations nationwide---NATIONWIDE!!--- have been for decades, and only appear to be getting even worse with help from Mayor Ed Murray's behind-closed-doors city council meetings! If you're a Seattle resident whose experience with the SPD has been more harmful than beneficiary (i.e.: have you ever been harassed and /or threatened by an SPD officer for no valid reason, as in Dominic Holden's episode regarding a well documented confrontation that happened on July 30, 2013?), wouldn't you be alarmed, or even pissed?
Seattle's police system is shamefully abused, and unless major steps aren't taken to remove the serious bad-apples keeping its flaws so stubbornly in place, the SPD and SPOG will remain so.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 27, 2014 at 9:57 PM · Report this
42
@34 @36 Seatackled and @35 gnossos: Thanks too, by the way, for fixing the tag situation.

@40 seandr: Agreed! I feel sorry for the residents of Seattle, and good, morally decent SPD cops stuck in a bad system.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 27, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
43
re My comment regarding Dominic Holden's ordeal with the SPD in @41: This is just a bizarre coincidence and only trivial FYI, but while poor Dominic was getting wrongfully threatened by SPD officers Patrick Saulet (now fired) and John Marion for simply and legally doing his job taking pictures and notes as a journalist for The Stranger, the date sticks out for me as highly memorable, but for a different reason.
I was unknowingly getting drunk on too much 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon in a local pizza bar, celebrating my 49th year on Planet Earth that same day! At least I remembered to keep my beloved car safely parked at home, walked downhill to the restaurant, and amazingly, DIDN'T throw up afterward.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 27, 2014 at 10:29 PM · Report this
44
Dominic, can I buy you a drink?
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 27, 2014 at 10:32 PM · Report this
45
You want Jaypal because you don't want the police don't the job of the federal government. And she will make sure whoever goes into the job understands thaqt.

As for the places some came from, * would be more specific about what the department itself was likw (they were not with the sheriff's officem after all and how did they deal with whatever was going on at the time?

I've since learned that Robert Lerner has points for that; the Oreogon Police were under fire for a couple of incidents; he came in, took over, handled it very well. And they were disciplined as they should have been. But just his whole demeanor and calm rational approach and presentation made a big difference, they said, for the city.

Milread looks better to me today than yesterday, looking at his influenced on Mesa as a safer city, but I would be concerned -- with his technology emphasis about any overemphasis on terrorism or spying on citizens (while of course wanting a cnadidate who can deal competantly with crises of that natiures. I would like to know about increasing community policing, getting police on the parks and trails on bikes, on foot in places like the univerisity district at night (not to stop pot smoking but to stoop the rash of assaults that ssem to take place), having them ride the bueses at times, and increasing 911 response time. I would like them to hire a lot more police officers and provide the needed training in psych along with any ohter number of needed areas.

I am concerned that they are overly enamored with technology and futurism, and the real solutions to me seem much more down to eacth - needing more police "out there" in the communities and making them safer.
Posted by Just Some Thoughts on April 27, 2014 at 10:41 PM · Report this
46
@41 - if you think SPD and SPOG are among the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the country, you are either confused about the definition of corruption or have not read up on the abuses of other agencies. There are issues in Seattle, to be sure, but it simply isn't as bad as you claim.

The real problem that nobody wants to really delve into has been that the city has failed for decades to be an effective counter negotiator to SPOG. They have taken the path of least resistance and given SPOG just about everything they wanted at the bargaining table. I don't really blame SPOG for that - asking for the moon is a negotiating strategy, and it's what a union should do to adequately represent its members. My guess is that at times SPOG has asked for stuff they never expected to get, only to be stunned that the city said yes. That seems to finally be changing, which will wind up solving a lot of the problems in the agency. The city needs to not be afraid to hold firm.
Posted by Bax on April 28, 2014 at 6:39 AM · Report this
47
Any discussion of Police is futile. They are similar to Bankers. They will do what ever they want to do -- good or bad -- and cover it up with BLUE ink. The Politicians will stand behind them for fear of execution ---- both literally and/or politically. The best solution is to avoid them like the plague and/or prosecute if you have a good chance of winning in court.
Posted by Pluto in Capricorn on April 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
48
Not sure about the AZ politicians, they can't be Tea Party asshats and get anything done here. We don't work like that as a City.
A woman would be nice, but she hasn't stayed anywhere all that long. She only changed jobs back in December 13. Reforming SPD might take a little longer than she's willing to put into it.

What is clear, is it does need new blood. Hopefully some with some less right wing politics than that crop potentially have.
Posted by Chandira on April 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM · Report this
49
I'm actually from Tucson, where Chief Lehrer was prior to going to Eugene. First, just because the people in Phoenix, and Maricopa County generally tend to be more politically conservative, does not make it true for the rest of the state. Notice how you all are citing things like the Tea Party and Joe Arpaio? They're powerful in and around Phoenix. Tucson on the other hand, goes left and supports Dems, as does the rest of Pima County.

Second, I can say that I never experienced anything negative at the hands of TPD (and I'm a person of color!). TPD has generally been a fair organization that worked hard to balance the needs of the community with law enforcement, and to work with the community to implement solutions. Barring one or two incidents (most recently post-UA basketball loss), we also did not have incidents like those that have been documented with SPD. The TPD officers I did interact with were nothing short of courteous and professional, which I can't say for SPD. They also tended to be more diverse, but that's probably reflective of the demographics of Tucson and the surrounding area.

I'm willing to bet that Chief Lehrer would be able to use his background working with a highly diverse community in Tucson, as well as a more socially progressive community in Eugene to bring effective policing to Seattle.

What I'm more interested in is what O'Toole was doing as a private consultant.
Posted by Macattaq on April 28, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
50
I'm actually from Tucson, where Chief Lehner was prior to going to Eugene. First, just because the people in Phoenix, and Maricopa County generally tend to be more politically conservative, does not make it true for the rest of the state. Notice how you all are citing things like the Tea Party and Joe Arpaio? They're powerful in and around Phoenix. Tucson on the other hand, goes left and supports Dems, as does the rest of Pima County.

Second, I can say that I never experienced anything negative at the hands of TPD (and I'm a person of color!). TPD has generally been a fair organization that worked hard to balance the needs of the community with law enforcement, and to work with the community to implement solutions. Barring one or two incidents (most recently post-UA basketball loss), we also did not have incidents like those that have been documented with SPD. The TPD officers I did interact with were nothing short of courteous and professional, which I can't say for SPD. They also tended to be more diverse, but that's probably reflective of the demographics of Tucson and the surrounding area.

I'm willing to bet that Chief Lehrer would be able to use his background working with a highly diverse community in Tucson, as well as a more socially progressive community in Eugene to bring effective policing to Seattle.

What I'm more interested in is what O'Toole was doing as a private consultant.
Posted by Macattaq on April 28, 2014 at 1:24 PM · Report this
51
Thanks, good info, and good question about O'Toole!
Posted by Chandira on April 28, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
52
Time for the SPD to douche.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on April 28, 2014 at 3:35 PM · Report this
53
I'm sure most of you would like to review the link below. Please do not let Patrick Melvin destroy you police department like he did the City of Maricopa.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/sh/jms…

Posted by concerned in maricopa on April 28, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this
54
@46 Bax: Fair enough. You make some good points. My concern about the level of departmental and union affiliated corruption in the SPD and SPOG is based on what I have been reading currently over the last 9 months in The Stranger (i.e.: Dominic's ugly confrontation with SPD officers Saulet and Marion on 07/30/2013).
Here's hoping things change for the better, and soon.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 28, 2014 at 11:45 PM · Report this
55
Could someone please fix the tag problem? *sigh*
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM · Report this
56
Seatackled and gnossos, if that's you again, thanks.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 29, 2014 at 11:44 AM · Report this
57
@54 - I get it. I tend to think that the vast majority of the criticism of the union is made by people who haven't been members of a union and have no understanding of what unions are required to do for their members.

The benefits of unions are numerous, but the drawback is that they are obligated to provide representation to their worst members, not just the best. Otherwise a union will get sued for not providing adequate representation. It often seems like people forget that. It means that SPOG -- or any other union -- has no choice but to make sure its member is represented, no matter how much they may personally disagree with the person's conduct, or how repugnant that conduct may be.
Posted by Bax on April 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
58
@57: Oh, dear. You're right about the extent of my union knowledge. *sigh* I admittedly have never actually been a union member, but once came amazingly close as an office temp working about 6 months for a university that so desperately wanted to recruit me---only to get my union dues. Nothing more. I was never made to feel like one of them (among the strongly represented, protected, etc), and at the time, I really wanted to belong. It didn't work that way for me.

So-o-o-o-o-o....it sounds like some unions, for the most part, are a little like the employers who love to boast about their Equal Opportunity hiring status, when in fact all they're really doing is just filling quotas and playing "we take care of our own"?
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 29, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
59
@58:p.s. I am not anti-union, but the thought of ANY union having to be so politically caught up in being fair that it hurts its organization altogether is a bit of a disincentive for me.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 29, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this

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