Out-Of-Town Finalists for the Police Chief Job Would Be Taking an Awfully Big Step Up

Ron Davis: movin' on up?
No offense to the city of East Palo Alto, but if Mike McGinn does peg Ron Davis as the successor to Gil Kerlikowske, it'll be like a major league ball club calling up a talented pitcher from Double A.

Davis was one of three candidates named as finalists following the 26-member police chief search committee's marathon final meeting at City Hall Tuesday night.

One of those we already know: Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. The other two both hail from California: Rick Braziel, chief of the Sacramento Police Department and Ronald Davis of East Palo Alto, which according to Davis' bio was once named the murder capital of the U.S.

Having held down the position since 2005, Davis has a longer tenure as chief of police than his counterparts. But based on the figures he provided to the search committee, the Seattle job will still be a significant step up.

As noted in the biography provided the search committee, East Palo Alto is a city of only 32,784. As chief, Davis runs a department with less than 100 sworn officers and whose annual budget of $9 million is dwarfed by the SPD's, which runs on $245 million per year.

Conversely, Braziel runs a department that is much more comparable in size to the SPD. According to his resume, Braziel was named deputy chief of the Sacramento police department in 2002, and then sworn in as chief in 2008. And his Sacramento Police Department operates with an annual budget of around $150 million and a roster of 700 sworn officers. Compare that with the 1,330 police officers employed by the SPD.

Whether either of these two can edge out Diaz for the job may hinge on how much Mike McGinn values, and how he defines, "command experience." But if it's any indication, earlier this month, Davis lost a bid to become the next police chief of New Orleans to a cop who had experience running a department larger than his own.

The next step in the process comes on June 2, when the candidates are scheduled to appear before the City Council.

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