Seattle Mayor Ed Murray named former Seattle Police Assistant Chief Harry Bailey to run the department while a nationwide search is conducted for a permanent chief. The move was announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Murray also said he hoped to a have the search for a new chief completed by April. Jim Pugel, who was serving as interim police chief, will return to his previous position of assistant chief.

I believe this is the single most important decision I will make as mayor, Murray said of finding a new chief. And it's important I get it right for the safety of the people in Seattle.

Murray said Bailey, a retired SPD officer of 35 years, is widely respected in law enforcement circles and many diverse communities that make up the city of Seattle.

Bailey's first order of business is making the department more transparent.

Building the confidence of the community and making the officers know that you can go and do your work and have the support that you need, said Bailey.

Murray announced he's appointing a special search committee and hiring a firm to look for candidates.

In the short time frame that Bailey will run the department, Murray has asked that he look at training and personnel issues.

I want to make sure we're getting the best police service we can and make sure our communities are safe, said Bailey.

Murray said he's personally talked to Pres. Obama twice, requesting help in getting the reforms done.

The president offered to work with us, Murray said. His administration is going to arrange meetings with the justice department members at the end of this month when I'm back in D.C. for the national conference of mayors.

Bailey said he's not interested in the permanent police chief position, but is offering his leadership during the nationwide search.

Pugel has made it clear he hopes to be selected as permanent police chief. Murray said Pugel is welcome to apply for the position, but sources told KING 5 that Pugel was recently informed that the new chief will probably be selected from outside the department.

Pugel took over as interim chief last April when John Diaz stepped down.

Since then Pugel has shaken up the top ranks. He demoted Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer and Deputy Chief Nick Metz to assistant chiefs. Last month, Pugel further demoted Metz to the rank of captain. Another assistant chief, Dick Reed, voluntarily took a demotion to captain.

Harry Bailey recently worked for former Mayor Mike McGinn as a consultant on SPD reform. He joined the force 1971 and moved up through the ranks, retiring in 2007 to take a job as security director for the Seattle SuperSonics. After the Sonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2009, Bailey continued to work for the team.

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