The revolving door at the Seattle Police Department (SPD) was in heavy use during Mayor Ed Murray’s first month in office. Since the appointment of Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey, two assistant police chiefs announced their retirements, and the former interim police chief, Jim Pugel, may be on his way out, as well.
Two other assistant chiefs had already been demoted before Pugel left his post for Bailey; one of them, Nick Metz, was brought back as assistant chief and now heads the Field Support Bureau.
The West Precinct commander, who oversees policing downtown, was replaced; he had previously clashed with the city attorney about filing warrants. A new assistant chief was named to head SPD’s new Compliance and Professional Standards Bureau, and the department’s new 70-plus-page policy on biased policing and use of force went into effect Jan. 1.
This is happening as the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild welcomes a new president, SPD Det. Ron Smith, who ran for the position unopposed.
While SPD has five years to reform itself, as stipulated by the U.S. Department of Justice, it’s already made significant headway in ensuring its success. With a new team in place that is committed to the changes ahead, the culture at SPD can only improve — and that’s something a previously skeptical citizenry can support.