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Originally published June 17, 2010 at 4:29 PM | Page modified June 17, 2010 at 8:03 PM

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Police guild responds to city attorney

Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, issued this response to City Attorney Peter Holmes' statement about Seattle Police Department leadership:

Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, issued this response to City Attorney Peter Holmes' statement about Seattle Police Department leadership:

As president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild I am disappointed at today's statement from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes when he said that there was a "void of leadership at the top" of SPD. I believe it is highly inappropriate for a city attorney to publically criticize the leadership of the Seattle Police Department at any time, but especially, when there is an ongoing selection process for the office of the chief.

Chief John Diaz has served the department and the citizens of Seattle for almost thirty years. He has led this department through one of our worst years in history. During a span of just a few months he provided the leadership and resources so that two cop-killers were captured. At the same time he oversaw the investigation and capture of the Greenwood arsonist. While all this was going on, our department went through the national re-accreditation process and we are only one of a few major departments who enjoy this award.

Mr. Holmes quotes Judge Spearman as saying, "The Use of Force in a jaywalking situation as a best practice is questionable." Force was not used in a jay-walking incident! Force was used because the individuals involved assaulted a uniformed police officer. Officers are trained to enforce the law and not to "de-escalate" (walk away) simply because a violator objects to being stopped. That would simply lead to lawlessness. For the city attorney to call into question the Chief's leadership over a justified use of force incident, is simply insulting.

Chief Diaz has proven that he can lead a very large department through the worst of times. As a member of the Mayor's Chief Selection Committee, I believe that the selection issue is obviously becoming a political popularity contest. Chief Diaz is the only remaining candidate who meets the published criteria for the position and has the proven experience in leading a large urban police force. If Chief Diaz is not selected, then The Seattle Police Officers Guild would support the idea that the selection process be re-opened.

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