Seattle's Final Three Police Chief Candidates: "They're Not All Perfect Gods—Everyone Is Human."
by Ansel Herz
on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 1:19 PM
Last week we told you about the top four candidates to become Seattle's next police chief. Today there are three. (Patrick Melvin from the Salt River, Arizona police department is no longer in the running.) Mayor Ed Murray's police chief search committee is recommending Robert Lehner of Elk Grove, California; Frank Milstead from Mesa, Arizona; and Kathleen O'Toole of Boston. (The former two are current police chiefs, the latter is a former police commissioner.)
State Senate candidate Pramila Jayapal and former King County Executive Ron Sims, the committee co-chairs, were effusive about all three, describing them as "change agents" and "reformers." Ron Smith, the president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, said he's "very excited" about them, and added, "I'm hoping at the end of five years people will look to Seattle as a model—much as you saw last night during May Day."
The committee's 12 members voted unanimously for them, the committee members said, based on a criteria that looked for:
- Cultural competency
- The ability to build community relationships, and to change the culture and attitudes related to race and social justice at SPD
- The ability to uphold high standards for officers, and take a proactive approach to preventing re-incarceration and rearrest.
Sounds great, right? They've all had experience working with the Department of Justice and with introducing cutting edge technologies to their departments (shoulder cameras, for example), the committee said.
"Those who don't want change [within SPD] should look for other careers—being blunt, as a taxpayer," Sims said. "It's very clear that we will meet and exceed the Department of Justice's order." During site visits around the country, he said, "we heard no adverse community comments" and people even begged the committee to leave them be and not remove such "exceptional" leaders from their communities. Sims' praise for them was so over the top that Jayapal interjected, laughing, "They're not all perfect gods—everyone is human."
Murray is expected to choose one of the candidates in mid-May.