Sending the Right Signal

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The Council’s public safety committee voted today to lift a restriction on the appointment of senior police commanders from outside of the Seattle Police Department. The City Council imposed the restriction way back in 1978, a move that required top commanders to be appointed only from within the Police Department’s ranks.

Allowing the chief to select the best possible candidates from inside or outside the department sends the right signal to our police officers. We expect them to compete for these important leadership positions with the best and the brightest from the around the country. We want them to serve under and learn from the best police commanders available.

It also sends the right signal to police chief candidates. Truly effective and sustainable reform necessitates strong leadership. The legislation passed out of committee today signals that the political leadership of Seattle is serious about reform and moving the department forward. It empowers the next chief to bring whoever she or he feels will best advance effective and constitutional policing practices.

The Council's public safety chair Bruce Harrell and I sponsored this legislation, which will now go to the Full Council for a vote on Monday. If you’re interested in reading more (including a table of other cities' hiring practices), here is a memo with more detail about the bill.