Newly appointed Seattle interim police chief Harry Bailey on Wednesday promoted three captains to the rank of Assistant Chief, marking the latest changes among a departmental command staff that has been relatively stable in recent years.
Bailey’s picks are:
- Capt. Joe Kessler, who recently returned to the Southwest Precinct as commander, a job he previously held from 2008 to 2010
- Capt. Robin Clark, who headed the North Precinct until she was tapped in August this year to serve as an acting assistant chief to then-Interim Chief Jim Pugel. Pugel was removed from that position last week and replaced by Bailey, who came out of retirement to run the department until a permanent chief can be selected. Pugel returned to the rank of assistant chief.
- Capt. Tag Gleason, who currently oversees the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.
Bailey is only expected to be on the job until April, when the mayor hopes to announce his choice for the permanent position. But Bailey has made it clear he won’t be sitting on his hands during his brief time at the helm.
On Monday, Assistant Chief Mike Sanford abruptly announced his retirement (effective in March, but he opted to take immediate leave). Sanford was the third command staff member to depart in recent months. In November, Assistant Chiefs Nick Metz and Dick Reed were demoted to the rank of captain by Pugel.
The staff changes this week occurred as a move is underway to revise a decades-old ordinance that required all command staff to be chosen from within SPD’s ranks. A Seattle City Council Committee passed a new ordinance Wednesday that would allow the police chief to hire his or her top people from outside the department. Council President Tim Burgess stated that to truly have successful reform the police chief must have discretion to hire top staff from outside or inside the ranks.
Asked about the proposed change Monday, representatives of the Seattle Police Management Association and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild told KING 5 they were willing to have one command staff position open to outside candidates, but not all six. SPMA and SPOG each filed demand letters saying they believe the change is subject to collective bargaining.