Ron Davis Sounds Like a Great Police Chief, But Not for Seattle

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Mayor Mike McGinn is reportedly leaning towards naming East Palo Alto police chief Ron Davis the new top cop in Seattle. After Sacramento chief Rick Braziel's surprising withdrawal, Davis is one of only two candidates left to fill the position formerly held by Obama's Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Davis is undoubtedly one hell of a police officer, as this laudatory Seattle Times profile demonstrates, but he's probably not the right one for the Emerald City.

The case against Davis starts and ends with the differences between Seattle and East Palo Alto. And the man who makes the best argument against his hiring is a former cop too, Councilmember Tim Burgess.

East Palo Alto only has 39 officers and a budget of $11 million, roughly how much it costs to clean the uniforms of Seattle's 1,345 officers.

Councilmember Tim Burgess seems to be going out of his way to talk up Davis' competition.
A police chief is as much a chief executive as a cop, which would make Davis' promotion akin to the manager of the Capitol Hill Kinko's being named CEO.

In a comparison of the two city's on his blog, Burgess inadvertently makes an even more compelling argument against Davis' hire: Seattle and East Palo Alto are nothing alike when it comes to crime.

It may seem like a fairly obvious point to make. Seattle is, well, Seattle. Property crimes far outweigh the violent ones. Whereas East Palo Alto, despite a marked improvement in recent years, still maintains many of the elements that led to its dubious distinction as the country's murder capitol in 1992.

Burgess doesn't come right out and say Davis isn't ready for the job. Instead, he writes how "disappointed" he was upon hearing about Braziel's withdrawal, offering that "he could have assumed command of the police department from day one and provided outstanding leadership."

Take that to mean whatever you like. But couched in a post about how East Palo Alto is as unlike Seattle as Braziel's Sacramento is similar, a statement like that leads me to think that Burgess, a guy who knows a thing or two about policing, is inviting readers to read between the lines.

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