Harrell announced he will begin the search for a permanent police chief to replace former Chief Carmen Best, who left the position at the end of 2020, following protests against police brutality, criticism and budget cuts.
Best announced her retirement hours after the City Council voted to cut her annual $285,000 salary by $10,000, as well as the salaries of her command staff, and to trim as many as 100 officers from a force of 1,400 through layoffs and attrition. She said at the time she was OK with her pay cut, but not with having to lay off young officers, many of them minorities hired in part to improve the department’s diversity.
For the 17 months since then, Adrian Diaz, who joined the department in 1997, has served as interim chief.
The Seattle Times reports that during his inaugural address in January, Harrell committed to “making some decisions” about the chief position in the first quarter of the year.
However, the city’s charter requires the mayor to conduct a search and name three finalists for the chief position. The selected finalist must then be approved by the City Council.
Harrell said Thursday he will hire a third-party firm to lead a nationwide search for chief candidates and appoint local stakeholders to a search committee for the position in April.
According to a department spokesperson, Diaz is out of town at a conference and was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
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