Durkan Announces End of Tenure for Police Chief O’Toole

Leadership at Seattle City Light is also on the way out.

Newly elected Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan started to reshape City Hall on Monday with some major moves in city leadership. She announced the end of Kathleen O’Toole’s tenure as Chief of the Seattle Police Department, as well as changes to the leadership at Seattle City Light.

Deputy Chief Carmen Best will serve as Seattle Police Department’s interim chief of police starting Jan. 1, 2018, replacing O’Toole, who is stepping down effective Dec. 31, according to a press release.

“Few issues are more important [than] public safety and keeping families in our city safe,” Durkan said in the release. “Deputy Chief Best will continue Chief O’Toole’s work to build more effective community policing and lasting reforms.”

“I want to thank Mayor Durkan for the honor of being chosen as Interim Police Chief,” Best said. “I’m proud to have served the city in many roles over the past 25 years, and I want to continue building the confidence of the community. Reform is a top priority on my agenda. Our leadership, officers, and I are committed to continual reforms.”

Best, who has worked for the Seattle Police Department for 25 years, currently oversees patrol operations, criminal investigations, Special Operations Bureau, and community outreach. Durkan said she “has been on the front lines of keeping our city safe and has an unrelenting resolve to serve the people.”

The national search for a permanent police chief is ongoing. There will be an “extensive” community outreach process in early 2018.

The search is being led by a four-person committee and includes Jeffery Robinson, who is a deputy legal director and director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality but will be serving on the committee in a personal capacity; Tim Burgess, the former mayor of Seattle, former president of the Seattle City Council and former Seattle police detective; Colleen Echohawk, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club; and Sue Rahr, the director of Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and former King County sheriff.

The committee will narrow down the list of police chief candidates to three and submit it to Durkan, who will select one.

“The next police chief must be committed to continuing to build an accountable, diverse police department focused on meaningful and lasting reforms and building trust in the community they serve,” Durkan said. “Our efforts will be developed and implemented with input and leadership from Seattle neighborhoods and communitiesincluding those communities that have the greatest distrust of police and the criminal justice system and who face the bias and institutional racism of our current system.”

Durkan also announced Monday that Director of Emergency Management Barb Graff and Chief of Seattle Fire Department Harold Scoggins will continue in their roles. Durkan appointed Jim Baggs as interim head to Seattle City Light, replacing outgoing Seattle City Light CEO and General Manger Larry Weis, until a national search is conducted to hire a permanent replacement. ■

— SW Staff

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