KING 5 Poll: Seattle citizens lack confidence in SPD, Chief Diaz


by KING 5 News

Posted on February 20, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 20 at 6:41 PM

Seattle Police Chief John Diaz holds the lowest approval rating of top city officials, according to the findings of a new KING 5 poll.

Just 30 percent of respondents said they approve of Diaz's job performance, with 53 percent saying they disapproved. Among men, 36 percent of respondents said they approve of Diaz's performance, compared to just 24 percent of women.

Since taking over in 2009, Diaz has presided over a tumultuous period for SPD. The department was the subject of an intensive Justice Department investigation into inappropriate use-of-force by officers and mistreatment of minority suspects. That investigation concluded that inadequate training and supervision at SPD led to a pattern of excessive force being employed by officers.

The KING 5 poll also found that the Seattle Police Department has the lowest approval rating of any city agency. Just 27 percent of poll respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the department, lower than the 36 percent who said they have an unfavorable opinion.  Thirty-two percent said they had a neutral opinion of the department.

As with Diaz, a larger portion of male respondents said they had a favorable view of SPD -- 32 percent compared with just 22 percent of women who said they had a favorable view of the department.

By comparison, Seattle Fire Department enjoys the highest favorability rating of any city department covered by the KING 5 poll. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of SFD, with just 4 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion.

Respondents were also asked if they support a proposal to have SPD officers wear body cameras to record their interactions with the public. Sixty-eight percent said they support the proposal, with just 19 percent opposed and 13 percent unsure.

KING 5 News asked Chief Diaz and SPD for comment on the poll's findings. This story will be updated with SPD comments if they are forthcoming.

Diaz became Interim Chief of Police on May 8, 2009, after then-Chief Gil Kerlikowske was named Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for the Obama administration. Diaz was later confirmed as SPD chief in August 2010.

The KING 5 poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, surveyed 500 Seattle adults between Feb. 15 and 19.