Seattle police chief candidates down to final 3

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:59 AM

SEATTLE -- The search for Seattle's new police chief has narrowed down to three candidates.

A search committee made up of Seattle citizens chose the final three candidates Tuesday night and submitted the names to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. They are:

John Diaz, currently the acting police chief for the Seattle Police Department.

Ronald Davis, the chief of the East Palo Alto Police Department, a position he's held for five years. While Davis has been a candidate for the SPD job, he's also been a finalist for the same job for the City of New Orleans. New Orleans eventually chose the chief of Nashville.

Rick Braziel, police chief for the City of Sacramento. A report in the Sacramento Bee describes Braziel's fondness for serving the Sacramento Police Department, where he's served since 1979. In the report, the Sacramento mayor talks about feeling surprised and disappointed in the possibility of losing his chief.

Both Braziel and Davis were recruited for the Seattle job by a headhunter agency.

The next step should be in early June, when Mayor McGinn will make his choice from the three finalists. The Seattle City Council must approve his selection.

The finalists were picked from a group of nine semifinalists. Those nine had included Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick; Seattle Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer and Seattle Assistant Chief Jim Pugel.

The Seattle chief position came open when former Chief Gil Kerlikowske left the post in 2009 to serve as President Obama's drug czar.

All of the candidates already told the search committee that racism will not be tolerated under their leadership. Discussing the recent racially heated incident involving at least two Seattle police officers has been big part of the screening process.

One candidate under intense scrutiny is the interim chief John Diaz. Tuesday, the NAACP came out hard against Diaz questioning his ability to police all communities with integrity.  The committee says the NAACP position, which was announced the same day of the top three selection, was not taken into consideration in choosing the candidates.

50-year-old Rick Braziel has been Sacramento's police chief for two years and is a nationally recognized expert on neighborhood policing.

"Excellent supporter of his community you can see in the writing about him that they'd be sorry to lose him," said committee co-chair Kate Joncas of Braziel. "An innovator, excellent manager of the budget."

46-year-old Ronald Davis has spent 5 years as chief of East Palo Alto. He's known for his work with parolees, and the murder rate dropped 29 percent in three years under his leadership.

"Chief Davis also very innovative," said Joncas. "He had a couple programs we hadn't seen in any other communities he came into one of the toughest communities in the U.S. and completely turned it around."

Finally 52-year-old John Diaz has been interim chief since March of last year. He's been with Seattle Police for 30 years. Despite coming under fire for the treatment of Latino suspects in his officers' custody, Diaz still rose to the top.

"We took Chief Diaz's tenure as interim chief of police, we took his entire history as police officer and his interview and we thought he'd continue to be an outstanding chief of police," said co-chair Charles Rolland.
 

KING 5's Elisa Hahn and Tim Robinson contributed to this report.

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