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Originally published May 11, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Page modified May 12, 2010 at 4:25 PM

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Three finalists chosen for SPD police-chief job

Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and two chiefs of police from Northern California cities were selected Tuesday evening as finalists for the job of Seattle police chief.

Seattle Times staff reporter

What's next

• The three finalists will be presented to the City Council's Public Safety and Education Committee on June 2.

• Mayor Mike McGinn will make his pick after that, likely by mid-June.

• The City Council then will vote whether to confirm McGinn's choice.

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Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and two chiefs of police from Northern California cities were selected Tuesday night as finalists for the job of Seattle police chief.

The other two are Rick Braziel, chief of police in Sacramento, and Ronald Davis, chief of the East Palo Alto Police Department.

Their names now go to Mayor Mike McGinn, who must choose from among the three and submit his pick to the City Council for confirmation.

McGinn's decision will be among the most important he will make in his first year as mayor, particularly as the Police Department remains under fire after the release last week of a videotape showing two officers kicking a detainee and using ethnically inflammatory language.

The three finalists were chosen from a list of nine semifinalists by a 26-member search committee formed by McGinn. The list originally included 11 candidates, but two — one from Iowa and the other from Florida — dropped out before interviews were conducted in Seattle on Saturday.

In addition to Diaz, the semifinalists included two of the Seattle Police Department's high-ranking commanders, Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer and Assistant Chief Jim Pugel. Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick also was a semifinalist.

Seattle has not had a permanent police chief selected from within its ranks in more than 30 years, when Robert Hanson served in the position.

Short biographies of the three finalists:

Diaz, 52, was appointed interim chief in March 2009, in anticipation of the departure of former Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who left in May to become President Obama's drug czar.

A San Francisco native, Diaz served as an Army criminal investigator before joining the Seattle Police Department in 1980. First working as a patrol officer in the department's South Precinct, Diaz was promoted to sergeant, lieutenant and captain in the East Precinct, and served as precinct captain from 1995 to 2000. He also has commanded the department's internal-investigations unit, the gang unit and violent-crimes section.

He was named assistant chief in 2000 and was promoted to deputy chief a year later after a department reorganization, overseeing the Operations Bureau, which includes special operations, patrol and criminal investigations.

Braziel, 50, was sworn in as Sacramento's chief two years ago.

The 30-year department veteran is co-author of the book "Cop Talk: Essential Communication Skills for Community Policing," and is considered a nationally recognized expert on neighborhood policing, according to a department biography.

Braziel said his major accomplishments over the past two years include partnering with private-sector businesses to provide leadership and management training for supervisors. The goal, he said, is to incorporate successful, private-sector practices.

"The one thing we don't do well is efficiency," Braziel said. "Process gets in the way of results. How do we look at results, not the process?"

Braziel has a degree from California State University, Sacramento.

Davis, 46, has spent five years focusing on reform "in a city once dubbed the murder capital of the United States," according to a biography posted on the department website.

Davis was appointed chief in East Palo Alto, in the San Francisco Bay Area, after 19 years with the Oakland Police Department. He has pushed community policing efforts, partnered with the state prison system to implement a parolee re-entry program and served as a police-reform expert for the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We're working with parolees. We're quasi-parole officers," Davis said. "We're changing the recidivism rate and the crime rate."

Davis attributes a drop in the city's homicide rate, 29 percent over the past three years, to the parolee re-entry program.

Davis has a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University.

The search committee, which began its work in January, voted Tuesday night on the three finalists after meeting in executive session to discuss the candidates and evaluate them.

The finalists are to be presented to the City Council's Public Safety and Education Committee on June 2. McGinn then will make his pick, followed by the council's confirmation process.

The semifinalists, who included police chiefs and former chiefs from across the country, were chosen last month from a list prepared by a search firm hired by the search committee. The firm, Police Executive Research Forum of Washington, D.C., tailored its choices to criteria established by the committee.

Saturday's interviews of the semifinalists, conducted in private, came within days of the release of a videotape showing a gang detective and a patrol officer kicking a prone detainee during an April 17 incident, with the detective using inflammatory language regarding Latinos.

The video prompted McGinn and the City Council to express strong concerns, and Latino groups to condemn the police actions.

Seattle Times reporter Emily Heffter and Times researcher David Turim contributed to this story, which includes information from Times archives.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com

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