Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole has been appointed to a job in Ireland, but insists she will be keeping her job in Seattle.
O’Toole will chair a new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. She said she is still trying to figure out what the time commitment will be for this new post, but some are already questioning whether she'll be able to do both jobs.
O'Toole was quick to refute the rumors of her departure Tuesday.
“There is speculation about me today, because I've been asked to chair a commission in Ireland. There is always going to speculation. I think the day I arrived here there was speculation,” she said.
News broke Tuesday morning from several Irish media outlets of the chief's new appointment. The Journal reported "she was finishing her position in Seattle before taking the role,” and questioned, "who would foot the full bill for her relocation costs."
“I think the fundamental nature is what is the scope and nature of the work,” said former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper.
Stamper, who was in Seattle to promote his new book, said it's not unusual for the top cop of a police department to consult another.
But the job description overseas sounds substantial. According to that country's Department of Justice, O'Toole will lead "a comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing including all functions currently carried out by An Garda Siochana,” the national police service in Ireland, which has been rocked by scandal.
“The basic issue here is whether or not Kathleen O'Toole's expertise, the knowledge, and experience can be shared with little or no cost to the city of Seattle,” he said.
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild expressed concern over the news. Would the chief be available to complete the final stage of reforms mandated by the consent decree?
O'Toole insists she's keeping her eye on the ball for the city.
“We have some significant issues I'm dealing with,” she said. “We just got through May Day. Now we're focused on violence in the south end and the CD. So we're just going to pay attention to business.”