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Ahead of Candidate Return Visits to Seattle, Mayor Durkan Announces Update on Police Chief Search

Seattle (June 7) –  Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that former Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay formally withdrew from consideration for the role of Seattle Police Chief following conversations on police reform with Mayor Durkan. Mayor Durkan asked for the Competitive Exam to reconvene to choose an additional candidate, and following the convening, the assessors selected Interim Chief Carmen Best as an additional candidate. Interim Chief Best will join Eddie Frizell, Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department and Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department as a finalist for the position.

“I met with former Chief McLay, reviewed his competitive exam materials, and have spoken with a number of individuals including the Mayor of Pittsburgh about his work.  He understands the complexity of policing and has been a national leader on police reform. In our first conversation in June, he indicated that his strongest passion is in reform. The Seattle Police Department remains under federal court order and is in a critical two year compliance sustainment period. This upcoming week, Federal Judge Robart has called all parties to court for a status report, and I was briefed by the City Attorney and SPD ahead of the conference,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “One of my key priorities as Mayor has been to sustain reforms while continuing to build our nation-leading police department. I have been exploring a range of options to not just sustain reform, but continue to improve the department to meet the needs of our fast growing city.  We need additional expertise to help the City in assessing our path forward under the Consent Decree and our work with the DOJ and the Monitoring Team. I talked with Chief McLay this past week and we agreed that assisting on reform efforts was the best way he could help Seattle.”

“As a law enforcement officer and former Chief of Police for the City of Pittsburgh, my passion has been on the processes for creating transformational change and organizational excellence. After a lot of thought about how I can make the biggest impact, and after conversations with my family and with Mayor Durkan over the last several weeks, it is clear to me that I can most effectively support Seattle’s continued reform efforts outside of the role of Chief of Police, which is why I’ve withdrawn from consideration to be the Seattle Police Department’s next Chief of Police. It was an honor to be considered for the Chief of Police role in one of America’s great cities, and I look forward to continue my conversations with Mayor Durkan and the City about how I can best support Seattle’s steps toward meaningful and lasting reform, grounded in a firm commitment to the best practices of 21st century policing,” said former Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay.

On Friday, Mayor Durkan asked the Seattle Department of Human Resources to reconvene the Competitive Exam process as specified in Section 2 and 3, Article 6 of the City Charter. On Saturday, the assessors reconvened using the same criteria: the nomination of candidates from the 25-person community-based Police Search Committee, the recommendations from the Search Committee and its co-chairs, information gathered during the recruitment and selection processes, and written responses to examination questions. The assessors recommended that Interim Chief Carmen best be added as an additional candidate for the Mayor to consider. You can find the Competitive Exam memo here.

This upcoming week, all candidates will do a series of community meetings and interviews with Mayor Durkan.

“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. I look forward to listening to the community and talking with all three candidates,” said Mayor Durkan.

In June and July, Mayor Durkan initially met with each of the candidates and the City conducted site visits to each of the cities. The site visit team included many members of the community including Mayor Burgess, Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club Colleen Echohawk, Chinatown-International District Public Safety Advisor Sonny Nguyen, Pastor Lawrence Ricky Willis, United Black Christian Clergy and Asha Mohammed, Women’s Advocacy Center and Ian Warner, Legal Counsel to the Mayor and a former member of the Monitoring Team to the Consent Decree. The Mayor will have the site visit team do an equivalent review in Seattle in the coming days.

Previously, 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. As required by the City Charter, the Competitive Exam process submitted three names to Mayor Durkan. You can read more about the full community engagement and search process here.