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Originally published January 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM | Page modified January 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

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Editorial: Change is coming to Seattle Police Department

Furious shuffling of the upper ranks of the Seattle Police Department signal even more change coming with a new police chief.


Seattle Times Editorial

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A GIANT white board and a half dozen felt-tipped pens are needed to diagram the changes roiling out of the Seattle Police Department.

Names and titles are changing faster than any ordinary citizen can follow. The turnover, shake-up and shuffling is no doubt making heads spin throughout the department.

Expect more change.

The Seattle City Council will be presented with a new ordinance that would undo a 1978 restriction that limited the Seattle police chief to selecting senior commanders only from the existing ranks of captains and lieutenants.

What does that imply? For starters, that a new chief from outside the department could bring along another outsider to serve in a senior command position.

An insular department mired in decades of self-serving rules and prohibitions, ostensibly overseen by mayors who offered little oversight, is getting rattled hard.

This was all launched by the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation and challenge over the police department’s use of force and suspect policing practices.

On Friday, the federal judge overseeing SPD’s progress on reforms approved new polices related to DOJ concerns about biased policing and stop-and-frisk procedures.

Earlier, a less than zealous embrace of reforms took its toll on upper ranks of the department. A new mayor with a new interim chief has just shaken the command staff again.

Expect more turnover. Maybe some appointees would retire at a higher pay grade and make way for those who follow at the behest of the new, yet-to-be hired chief.

The department must continue to make progress on the reforms negotiated with the DOJ. This latest shake-up was no doubt made with that intent.

But the watchword remains: change. A new chief from the outside, or less likely from the inside, can be expected to take the job with the expectations of the mayor and City Council for more change.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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