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Seattle mayor selects Adrian Diaz as new police chief

Adrian Diaz, who has spent more than two decades with the Seattle Police Department, has been selected as its next permanent chief.

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell selected Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz as the city’s new permanent police chief.

Harrell announced his choice during a news conference Tuesday. Seattle City Council members must now confirm the selection.

From the beginning, the mayor said he is looking for a leader who will build community trust, meet the department’s recruitment and retention goals, and help Seattle set a new standard for public safety.

Harrell made his choice from three candidates who were selected as the top three finalists: Diaz, Seattle Police Assistant Chief Eric Greening and Tucson Police Department Assistant Chief Kevin Hall.

Diaz served as interim chief since former Police Chief Carmen Best stepped down in August 2020. Best’s resignation came after a tumultuous summer of racial justice protests, culminating in the Seattle City Council voting to cut police department spending.

Diaz has worked for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for over two decades. He worked in patrol, the mountain bike unit and the anti-crime team before joining the investigations bureau. He also served as assistant chief of the Collaborative Policing Bureau before he was promoted to deputy chief.

Greening is a 28-year veteran of the department, receiving several promotions. In 2016, he was chosen to lead the south precinct, and the following year he was promoted to assistant chief. Greening has served as the assistant chief of the collaborative policing bureau since 2021. 

Hall has been with the Tucson Police Department for more than three decades, starting his career there in 1992 and serving in a variety of roles.

The process to find the police department's next leader involved a national search and began in April. The city paid $75,000 for a search firm and held community forums to find the right candidate. The mayor appointed a committee who evaluated candidates.

The city narrowed down its applicant pool to five top candidates earlier this month, each of whom took a competitive exam. The three finalists then participated in a televised forum where they answered questions on policing alternatives, addressing violent crime and department culture.

Diaz will be charged with addressing ongoing staffing challenges in the department. The number of deployable officers is the lowest in over 30 years. Officers are still leaving more quickly than the department can hire them, data shows. The department has lost 400 officers over the past two-and-a-half years.

Veronica Beach, Chair of the African American Community Advisory Council to Seattle Police Department wasn’t surprised Harrell announced Diaz as his pick.

Beach said Diaz brought her in to help with the department’s “Before the Badge” training program where recruits focus on building relationships in the community. It's a program Beach felt like was in limbo without a permanent chief.

“I believe in my heart it’s going to change policing in Seattle,” said Beach.

Beach said she hopes the chief gets more officers to come to the advisory council meetings which she said are a platform for the Black community.

“I just want to move on and heal our city and build a stronger and better police department where our officers are held accountable,” Beach said.

Tuesday’s announcement brought some resolve for members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, which is the largest police labor union in the Northwest. The union said it’s happy to work with the appointed chief.

“I firmly believe that, that's going to afford us the opportunity to retain more officers by advocating for a fair and competitive contract because as you know, we're working without a contract, and we've lost over 500 people in two years,” said Mike Solan, President of Seattle Police Officers Guild.

Solan said now is the time to focus on public safety, “We need leadership. And we need confidence from the chief of police that he has the officers back, not only internally, but externally in the public setting.”

Councilmember Lisa Herbold sent a statement saying: 

“This is one of the most consequential decisions that Mayor Harrell will make. Seattle’s next police chief will play a central role in the Seattle Police Department’s work to build community safety, increase police accountability, and regain public trust.  

Thank you to every community member who took the time to make their voice heard, and particularly, members of the Search Committee for their many hours given to this process.  I look forward to further discussions with interim Chief Adrian Diaz as part of the Council confirmation process in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.”

  

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