Editorial: Look outside SPD for new chief
Weeks before another May Day rolls around, the Seattle City Council finally gets briefed on last year’s bumbling police response to protests.
Seattle Times Editorial
NO WORD if another round of protests is planned for downtown Seattle on May Day 2013. Maybe it will rain, which might be the most effective deterrent.
Certainly the lesson learned from last year’s May Day protests is that the Seattle Police Department needs new leadership. Start fresh. Take a hard look outside the department for SPD’s next chief.
The retirement, resignation, whatever, of Police Chief John Diaz, who remains on the job a bit longer, creates the opportunity to bring in outside talent to jump-start a very closely held bureaucracy of senior managers.
If Assistant Chief Jim Pugel, who will serve as interim chief with Diaz’s departure, feels denied a fair shot, he has only his colleagues to blame.
The department arrogantly and confidently fended off City Council requests for an official departmental accounting of happened what last May Day.
Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, sought an official report soon after the chaos in the streets.
He heard nothing and subsequently sent five emails looking for a response. Nothing.
In January 2013 he sent a request to Mayor Mike McGinn questioning the lack of response. Silence. And Harrell had never heard a reference to a report written by the SPD’s assigned incident commander during the protests.
Indeed, the SPD blew off a public-disclosure request by The Seattle Times for a copy of the incident commander’s highly critical report.
The pattern here speaks to a comfortable management team working to cover itself and not provide the transparency due taxpayers who pay the bills and live with the consequences of failed departmental oversight.
The mayor starts the search, but it falls to the City Council to confirm the mayor’s choice. That decision should come after the next election. In the meantime, ensure the door is wide open for outside applicants.