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Durkan Announces Public Safety and Utilities Officials

Durkan to Appoint Interim Police Chief and Discuss Next Steps to Select Permanent Chief and Continue Reform

SEATTLE (December 4, 2017) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced public safety officials who will serve in her administration including Director of Emergency Management, Chief of the Seattle Fire Department, and Police Chief.

“Few issues are more important than public safety and keeping families in our City safe,” said Mayor Durkan. “Deputy Chief Best will continue Chief O’Toole’s work to build more effective community policing and lasting reforms. For 25 years, Deputy Chief Best has been on the frontlines of keeping our city safe and has an unrelenting resolve to serve the people.”

With Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole stepping down, effective December 31, 2017, Durkan announced that she appointed Deputy Chief Carmen Best as the Seattle Police Department’s new Interim Chief of Police, effective January 1, 2018. Deputy Chief Carmen Best currently oversees the Patrol Operations, Criminal Investigations, Special Operations Bureau, and the Community Outreach section. Best has worked for the Seattle Police Department since 1992.

“I want to thank Mayor Durkan for the honor of being chosen as Interim Police Chief. I’m proud to have served the city in many roles over the past 25 years, and I want to continue building the confidence of the community. Reform is a top priority on my agenda. Our leadership, officers, and I are committed to continual reforms,” said Deputy Chief Carmen Best.

Durkan will launch a national search process to find the best candidate for the permanent police chief. Her search committee, led by four Co-Chairs, will seek community input throughout the process working in partnership with the Community Police Commission as well as other community based organizations.

“The next police chief must be committed to continuing to build an accountable, diverse police department focused on meaningful and lasting reforms and building trust in the community they serve. Our efforts will be developed and implemented with input and leadership from Seattle neighborhoods and communities – including those communities that have the greatest distrust of police and the criminal justice system and who face the bias and institutional racism of our current system,” continued Durkan.

The four co-chairs have extensive and unique experience in criminal justice reform and policing. You can view their full biographies here.

• Jeffery Robinson, serving in his personal capacity, is a deputy legal director and the director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which houses the organization’s work on criminal justice, racial justice, and reform issues
• Tim Burgess is the former Mayor of Seattle, former President of the Seattle City Council, and former Seattle police detective
• Colleen Echohawk is the Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club
• Sue Rahr is the Director of Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and former King County Sheriff

The search for a new Chief will include an extensive community outreach process during early 2018. We will identify a leader who will successfully continue police reforms and garner public confidence. The search committee will work with a national search firm to gather and screen applications using the input collected through community outreach then conduct candidate interviews. A list of three names will be submitted to Mayor Durkan, who will select from the list.

Continuing their work to keep Seattle safe, Barb Graff, Director of Emergency Management, and Harold Scoggins, Chief of the Seattle Fire Department will continue to serve in their respective roles.

“Mayor Durkan’s first priority is keeping Seattle and its residents safe, and it is a privilege to keep serving the people of our City. We are prepared to deliver a robust response in times of crisis and disaster,” said Barb Graff, Director of Emergency Management. “Seattle’s OEM consists of talented and devoted public servants who are ready to address the worst days our city could face, and I will continue to work to improve OEMs response record.”

“I’m honored to continue leading our Department. Every community wants a responsive, trusted fire department, and our men and women of our department work around the clock to fulfill this critical mission. I look forward to continuing our work to provide quality service to our residents, businesses, and visitors to our great City,” said Harold Scoggins, Chief of the Seattle Fire Department.

With the resignation of Seattle City Light CEO And General Manager Larry Weis, Durkan also appointed Jim Baggs as the interim head to Seattle City Light as a national search is conducted to identify her permanent hire. Baggs is currently the Chief Compliance Officer. In addition, Durkan asked Mami Hara, the leader Seattle Public Utilities, to continue serving in her role.