Following Extensive Community Engagement Process, City of Seattle Announces Three Finalists for Chief of Police

Seattle (May 25) – After extensive community outreach and a thorough review of many highly qualified applicants, the Police Search Committee and Competitive Exam process forwarded to Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan three candidates who best meet the community’s requirements for Seattle’s next Chief of Police. Mayor Durkan received the list of finalists for the next Chief of the Seattle Police Department this afternoon. In the coming weeks, she will interview each finalist and then nominate one for the position. The three finalists are: Eddie Frizell, Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department; Cameron S. McLay, Former Chief of Police, City of Pittsburgh; and Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department.

“Our Police Search Committee, who has deep experience in criminal justice reform and policing, has worked relentlessly to ensure the voice of the community is a vital and powerful part of this selection process. The strong national interest in this position has led to several great candidates but tough decisions about how the City can best move forward to continue reform and accountability. As I begin the interview process, our next chief must be committed to public safety while continuing to build an accountable, diverse police department focused on meaningful and lasting reforms,” said Mayor Durkan. “I’m incredibly grateful for the work that Interim Chief Carmen Best has done and will continue to do as part of the Seattle Police Department. I have known Chief Best for years and her work has been invaluable to me as Mayor — she has been a strong leader as Interim Chief.”

The City of Seattle and the Police Search Committee conducted a robust community engagement process, hosting 14 community meetings and events and partnering with 50 community organizations. More than 2,600 community members completed the Community Input Survey, up from 191 in 2014. The survey and workshops were open to all Seattle community members and businesses and provided opportunities for people to share their thoughts about the characteristics and experience necessary for the next police chief.

The results of the survey show that Seattle residents want a Chief of Police who understands the importance of community, and is committed to developing lasting relationships and trust, particularly with communities of color. A majority of responders agreed that the next police chief should be a courageous leader dedicated to reform, especially in improving relationships with the public and training officers more rigorously in de-escalation and cultural sensitivity. The survey indicated that the next police chief should demonstrate an ability to set high standards within the department, understand the history of policing in the United States, build confidence with diverse communities, and make all Seattle neighborhoods safer. You can read the full Community Input Survey and Engagement Report here.

“As a member of the Police Search Committee, I’m proud of the work we did to identify and advance five superb candidates to the competitive examination process. Each candidate had a vision for and commitment to ongoing reform and culture change within our police department. All five candidates also understood the need to empower our neighborhoods through community policing and by delivering excellent public safety services,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “These candidates were identified by our diverse committee through a nationwide search after engaging over 2,500 people through an online survey and a series of community meetings. With the identification of the three finalists by the Mayor’s Examination Committee, I encourage our community to actively engage in getting to know each candidate.”

The 25 members of the Police Search Committee, many of whom have extensive experience in criminal justice reform, collaborated with a national search firm to attract many qualified applicants from across the country. At the end of the community input process in late March, the Committee worked together to narrow the field of applicants. Five candidates were forwarded by the Police Selection Committee to participate in the Competitive Exam process. The Competitive Exam included: the nomination of candidates from the selection committee; the recommendations from the selection committee and its co-chairs, information gathered during the recruitment and selection processes, and written responses to examination questions. The Competitive Process selected three candidates. You can read the memo on the Competitive Exam here.

“Our next Chief of Police will shoulder the incredible responsibility of protecting all Seattle communities and building trust among those who have the greatest distrust of police and the criminal justice system, and who face the bias and institutional racism of our current system,” said Co-Chair Colleen Echohawk, Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club. “Over the past several months, a diverse range of community members who are invested in criminal justice, police reform, and public safety have made their voices heard. I believe that any of our finalists could lead Seattle to a safer and more just future.”

“From dozens of applications, over many weeks, we carefully focused our efforts on three outstanding finalists. The five individuals chosen by the Police Search Committee understand – and can actualize – a critical truth: The Chief of Police must be both a steward of public safety and a champion for racial justice,” said Co-Chair Jeffery Robinson. “I look forward to Mayor Durkan’s decision and the next chapter in the Seattle Police Department’s continued reform.”

“As a former King County Sheriff, I believe that the three individuals announced today as finalists are people of deep experience, integrity, and seasoned leadership,” said Co-Chair Sue Rahr, Director of Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and former King County Sheriff. “Each one would be a strong, effective steward of public safety, hold the trust of the rank-and-file and communities, and be a leader committed to lasting reform.”

The three finalists are:

  • Eddie Frizell, Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department. Eddie Frizell is an Inspector with the Minneapolis Police Department, which he has served for 25 years. Inspector Frizell also holds the rank of Colonel in the Minnesota Army National Guard, which he served for 28 years, including a deployment to Iraq.
  • Cameron S. McLay, Former Chief of Police, City of Pittsburgh. Cameron S. McLay is the former Chief of Police for the City of Pittsburgh. Prior to his service to Pittsburgh, Chief McLay spent 29 years at the City of Madison Police Department.
  • Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department. Ely Reyes is an Assistant Chief with the Austin Police Department, which he has served for 22 years. He also served in the United States Army and performed six years of overseas service. He is a recipient of the Purple Heart, Lifesaving Medal, and three Meritorious Service Medals.

“The Mayor’s assignment to the Search Committee and the co-chairs was based on very clear principles. First, the next Chief must continue to build an accountable, diverse, and effective police department, focused on meaningful and lasting reforms. Second, the search process had to be based on input and leadership from the people of Seattle, especially those communities that face bias and institutional racism in our current criminal justice system,” said Co-Chair Tim Burgess, former Mayor of Seattle. “I believe our work met these principles and found finalists who are experienced leaders, seasoned law enforcement officials, and individuals committed to building trust in the communities they serve.”

The Mayor will review the qualifications of the three finalists, interview each, and nominate one individual for the position of Chief of Police in the coming weeks.

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