Protestors Challenge Seattle Police Chief Selection Process

by Will Sweger

Tuesday morning several members of the Community Police Commission gathered in City Hall in front of a phalanx of cameras to denounce the hiring process for the next Seattle Police Chief. The Commission, tasked by Mayor Jenny Durkan with finding suitable candidates for the position, recommended five candidates. In announcing the recommendations Friday, the Mayor’s office stated the selection was down to three candidates, all from places outside the city.

The Community Police Commission, a 25-member body drawn from nominations from the Mayor, City Council, and sitting members of the commission, forwarded five names as finalists for the position at the Mayor’s request. One of the names included in the Commission’s report, but excluded from the Mayor’s list, is acting Police Chief Carmen Best who took over after Kathleen O’Toole departed in January.

Enrique Gonzalez, a Committee Co-Chair, was first to address the waiting crush of press in the atrium. “The hiring process in the City of Seattle does not work. There is far too much room for bias, we have a race equity toolkit that was not used on this process,” he said, suggesting the process should restart with the five candidates in an open and transparent process.

“I was also part of the selection committee that picked the inspector general and I can tell you there were issues there too. I’m not happy with the City of Seattle’s hiring process as a whole, but I can tell you that my personal preference would have been for Carmen to be a part of that process. At the very least because she’s been here so long. She deserves the opportunity to be part of that group…we’ve interviewed her for 27 years, we’ve interviewed the other candidates for two hours. How can you compare that?”

Second Press Conference 1-1
Photo by Susan Fried

In reference to the Committee’s influence over the Mayor, he said, “The mayor has to listen to the people. If the people are here in city hall demanding that a process be fair, be transparent, and be accountable, I think she has a responsibility to respond to that.”

The three candidates announced by the Mayor’s office were Eddie Frizell, an Inspector with the Minneapolis Police Department, Cameron McLay, a former Pittsburgh Chief of Police, and Ely Reyes, the Assistant Chief of Police for Austin. Additionally, the Committee nominated Chief Best and Jorge Villegas, the Assistant Chief of Police for the Los Angeles Police Department.


Second Press Conference 4e-1
Dominic Davis (center) looks on during Tuesday’s press conference. (Photo: Susan Fried)


Louise Chernin, President, and CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association and a member of the Police Chief Search Committee appointed by Mayor Jenny Durkan also commented Tuesday. “To hear that three names were selected and two of the names not selected…it was very upsetting, it was our only internal candidate, our only woman candidate, not to mention an African American woman candidate who suddenly disappeared from the list. That’s how it felt.”

The City of Seattle formed the Community Police Commission in 2013 after a federal investigation of the death of John T. Williams in 2010 after he was shot four times by a Seattle Police Officer. City legislation last year expanded the Commission and made it a permanent body. According to the city charter, final appointment power for the Police Chief rests with the Mayor and must be confirmed by a majority vote of the City Council.

Will Sweger is a contributor at the South Seattle Emerald. His work has appeared in Seattle Weekly, Curbed Seattle, The Urbanist, and Cascadia Magazine. Find him on Twitter @willsweger

Featured image by Susan Fried

9 thoughts on “Protestors Challenge Seattle Police Chief Selection Process”

  1. Anyone who was interested in this process has seen this coming from the outset. Now that the “deficiencies” have been addressed, lets see if the new mayor will back up her campaign rhetoric.

    1. “Let’s see if the new mayor will back up her campaign rhetoric.” Are you new to Seattle? Where have you EVER seen a Democrat in Seattle do that?

      This is EXACTLY why nothing changes. You liberal idiots have a fundamentalist-style faith in your party and your leaders, no matter how many times they betray you.

      1. You goddamn pathetic babbling moron, I was calling out the fact that she likely will do nothing to back up her campaign promises. I guess it went sailing right over your dome piece……….
        I also see that the fine staff at SSE lets another insult slide towards me, but lets see how fast they jump on my post in response to your calling me out of my name.

      2. Cool Hand Juke, you have to be the most fragile commenter of all time. How many times have you insulted me and yet your post is still up. You throw nothing but venom at people and then get “triggered” anytime anyone says something to you. You’ve called me out of my names several times. Lol, the SSE barely has a staff of one, but I guess you’re not actually in community and don’t know that. Instead, you enjoy running your mouth all the time and really just need to stop.

  2. All these folks complaining are FOOLS. Having a black female in charge of the Seattle Police DOES. NOT. MAKE. BLACK. PEOPLE. SAFER.

    We just saw a gay sheriff right here in Seattle beat up his boyfriend and hold up the Seattle Police in a 13-hour standoff. Gay cops don’t make gay people safer. Black cops don’t make black people safer.

    What in the HELL does it take for you people to get it through your heads? IDENTITY POLITICS IS KILLING US.

      1. BTW, I see that your bile stands. You continue to miss opportune time’s to shut up. Everything seems to be someone else’s fault whenever someone disagrees with your and not your own. You’re the definition of a snowflake.