Diaz gains key City Council vote for confirmation as Seattle police chief
The Seattle City's Council's public-safety committee voted Wednesday to confirm Interim Police Chief John Diaz as the city's next police chief, virtually assuring the nine-member council will approve his nomination next week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle City Council's public-safety committee voted Wednesday to confirm Interim Police Chief John Diaz as the city's next police chief, but not before presenting him with four goals they expect of him after the full council likely approves his nomination next week.
Committee Chairman Tim Burgess, reading from a draft letter to Diaz, listed the council's expectations for the new chief:
• Reducing crime, with focused and proactive problem-solving.
• Bolstering training for minimizing and de-escalating conflict between officers and citizens.
• Setting a high bar for officer conduct, with appropriate practices to deal with misconduct, including incidents involving excessive force and dishonesty.
• Building public confidence by sharing crime data with the public.
Burgess said Diaz would be required to provide the Public Safety and Education Committee with written quarterly updates on the goals, beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
Diaz said he would be glad to do that.
Shortly after, the committee voted to recommend Diaz for the chief's job.
The vote virtually assures that the full nine-member council will approve his confirmation on Monday.
The committee's three regular members — Burgess, Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark — and alternate member Bruce Harrell voted in favor of confirmation, along with Councilmember Nick Licata, who attended the meeting and cast a vote.
Councilmember Mike O'Brien abstained, saying he would reserve his vote until the full council meets.
Diaz said he was pleased by the committee's support.
"I hope to meet people's expectations," he said.
Diaz underwent close questioning by the committee July 21, when he said he didn't expect to make sweeping changes in the department after moving up its ranks during his 30-year career.
The committee action was welcome news for Diaz, who has endured blistering criticism from African-American leaders in recent weeks.
At the July 21 hearing, some African-American community leaders assailed Diaz, saying he had failed to fix the strained relations between police and Seattle's black community.
New search suggested
Critics suggested the city should start over and find a different candidate to lead the department.
Similar sentiments surfaced July 28 at a City Council public hearing on whether to confirm Diaz.
Anger bubbled over about a videotaped June 14 jaywalking stop, in which a Seattle police officer punched a 17-year-old African-American girl in Rainier Valley after she pushed him.
Many at the hearing criticized Diaz for not speaking out against the officer's action. Diaz has said an internal investigation prevents his saying much about it.
Others at the hearing — including some African Americans — praised Diaz for his character and long record as a Seattle officer.
Diaz, after a lengthy search process, was selected June 24 by Mayor Mike McGinn over one other finalist, Ron Davis, chief of police in East Palo Alto, Calif.
A third finalist, Sacramento, Calif., Police Chief Rick Braziel, had earlier withdrawn.
In his appearance before the public-safety committee July 21, Diaz touted what he called the successes of the Neighborhood Policing Plan, such as improved response times and officers spending more time doing proactive work.
Diaz also spoke about the need for officer accountability, in light of the jaywalking confrontation and a second videotaped incident in April in which two officers kicked and stomped a prone Latino man, with one using ethnically inflammatory language.
If confirmed, Diaz would be the first permanent chief chosen from within the department's ranks in more than 30 years.
Diaz, a Latino, also would become the department's first minority chief, replacing former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who left last year to become head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or drug czar, in the Obama administration.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.