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Monday, May 19, 2014

Kathleen O'Toole Set to Be Seattle's First Female Police Chief (Updated)

Posted by on Mon, May 19, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Posted at 10:10 a.m. and updated.

OToole speaks between interim chief Harry Bailey (left) and Mayor Ed Murray.
  • Photo by Ansel Herz
  • O'Toole speaks between interim chief Harry Bailey (left) and Mayor Ed Murray.

This morning Mayor Ed Murray nominated former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O'Toole to become Seattle's next—and very first female—chief of police. O'Toole's confirmation is subject to an all-but-certain vote of approval by the Seattle City Council.

"I think restoring trust is going to be the biggest challenge," O'Toole told a packed house on the ground floor of City Hall. That's a fair assessment of a police department that is under a five-year federal consent decree to correct a pattern of excessive force and racially biased practices.

King 5's Lynda Byron and I both asked about the city's two police unions, which have fought reforms, and O'Toole acknowledged the challenges they pose.

"I am willing to take on that difficult fight," she said. "I need to sit down with them and see what issues are pending... I think strong lines of communication are absolutely essential." Tensions between the chief and union are inherent in any police department, she explained. But she intends to run SPD "like a business" and will act as an evenhanded manager, she said. "As far as I am concerned, we will start with clean slate." When she negotiated with police unions in Boston, O'Toole explained, "I never felt like I gave away the store, but I felt that I was fair. We had a respectful relationship."

Within minutes, an angry union cop demonstrated the entrenched vitriol of those unions.

Officer Mike Solan confronted me as the press conference wrapped up, indignant that I'd said the police unions had opposed reform. Solan said he was SWAT cop and member of the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

"How have the unions opposed reform?" Solan demanded.

I looked up from my laptop, trying to take stock of a bristling man in full police regalia, and I explained that the Seattle Police Management Association has filed a lawsuit to block the federal court monitor's reform plan and, just last week, filed another complaint to prevent the new chief from recruiting officers from outside Seattle into the top ranks. Officer Solan became agitated, saying that there were two unions and the Seattle Police Management Association wasn't the same as SPOG, which represents line officers. "You need to have evidence to back up your questions," he said. I reminded him that my question concerned both unions and noted that SPOG also filed a lawsuit to block the reform plan. Solan said these lawsuits and complaint were just my opinions and that I should stick to evidence. Asked whether the unions' litigation was an attempt to block reform or not, he stormed off and said he didn't have time to answer my questions.

Let's just say O'Toole has her work cut out for her.

Murray is asking the council to pay O'Toole a $250,000 annual salary. Council Member Bruce Harrell, chair of the public safety committee, says the council—Council Members Sally Bagshaw, Tom Rasmussen, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Jean Godden were all here—hopes to wrap up O'Toole's confirmation in June.

Council President Tim Burgess says the confirmation and salary looks all but certain.


Comments (19) RSS

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Is a month swift?
Posted by Foonken2 on May 19, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
No discussion of Victoria Snelgrove?
Posted by thingvellir on May 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
fletc3her 3
@1 They need time to act important. Otherwise their egos will deflate.
Posted by fletc3her on May 19, 2014 at 10:32 AM · Report this
dnt trust me 5

What do you think about us, fletcher? We comment so much on Slog that we must think of ourselves as important, with big egos. Not on average, but my ego can deflate at the flick of a switch. With the right caring critical put-down, I can have no ego even before the light goes out. Good times.
Posted by dnt trust me on May 19, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
What's the salary history for the last few chiefs?
Posted by ishf on May 19, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this
@6: Diaz made $197,700. Not sure how much Pugel or Bailey were being paid as interims, but probably not more than that.

Posted by gnossos on May 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM · Report this
theophrastus 8
If there's a messed-up company/department, hire a woman, pay her less, (then later fire her and/or blame her)
Posted by theophrastus on May 19, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 9
@28: You forgot the part where the people hiring her get credit for hiring a woman, but none of the blame/shame when they throw her under the bus for their past failures.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 19, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
@8: The post says Murray is asking for $250,000.

Comment #7 says Diaz made $197,000, and the interim chiefs probably close to that.

How is O'Toole being paid less?
Posted by LMcGuff on May 19, 2014 at 12:54 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 11
These salary figures seem about right. I asked Paul Constant, so he's doing some investigating into the salary received by TV's Commissionor Gordon for the hit series Gotham. I'm awaiting his reply, and will get it to you ASAP.
Posted by dnt trust me on May 19, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
In 2011, John A. Diaz #4497, hired September 3, 1980, received gross pay of $187,280.59, no overtime.
In 2011, Michael P. Solan #6607, hired June 21, 1999, received gross pay of $107,562.81, $14,177.10 of which was overtime pay.

Source: lbloom.
Posted by Phil M on May 19, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
JonnoN 13
Editors: what's the point of an "off-topic" button if moron @5,@11 never gets removed?
Posted by JonnoN on May 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Hmmmm, I think I see the inherent problem,,,,

"Tensions between the chief and union are inherent in any police department, she explained."

Is this because unions are unethical and corrupt? Is this because the chief is always a tyrant?

Nah, it is because LEO are all suspect and they have no real focus and purpose, other than intimidation.. That would be intimidation of the public, each other and the system as a whole, I think.
Posted by pupuguru on May 19, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Great, yet another sign nothing will change. I suppose when the chief is criticized for rampant police abuse and racism, she'll claim its sexist to call her into question.

Seattle (Murray) is done the EXACT SAME THING Minneapolis did after they were similarly hit with a fed investigation showing systemic rampant racism and unaccountability among law enforcement. They fired the old chief (who would later go on to ADMIT racism is rampant in police culture) and hired a pro-abuse, racism-appeasing female police chief.

Nothing changed at all other than whenever the cops were caught doing something wrong or racist, she would deflect complaints citing 'sexism'.
Posted by araucania on May 19, 2014 at 3:11 PM · Report this
"Your facts about our actions are opinions." -- SPD
Posted by droctopu5 on May 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
@15 It would be polite to wait at least until she's confirmed before declaring her a failure.
There is a similar thread going on at the Seattle Times, you might feel more at home there.
Posted by crone on May 19, 2014 at 6:34 PM · Report this

Thats what people said about Diaz. And Bailey.

Hell, thats what people were saying about cleaning up the SPD when Murray came in (I admit, I was one of them...fool me once...). And When McGinn came in. And When Nickels came in.

Insiders dont do a good job of changing a corrupt culture. And one that has been as corrupted as the SPD for as long as the SPD has (going back to the 60s), its far more likely that the corruption will envelope the new person than the new person will change it. Again, the best example is Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau. Seattle is going through the exact same route they did. Everything from the fed investigation, to the union backlash and resistance, to the mayor change overs to the new hire.
Posted by araucania on May 19, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Oh goody. Seattle has its very own glass cliff situation:
Posted by emmaz on May 19, 2014 at 7:37 PM · Report this
This Irish gal from Boston is just what they need.
Posted by balmontguy on May 19, 2014 at 9:01 PM · Report this

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