Seattle’s hunt for a new police chief, which began over two years after the prior chief retired, has narrowed down to three contenders, two of whom are already employed by the department. Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Seattle Deputy Chief Eric Greening, and Tucson Deputy Chief Kevin Hall were named as the three contenders for Seattle’s permanent Chief of Police by Mayor Bruce Harrell.
Chief Carmen Best stepped down in 2020 following a summer of demonstrations and criticism of the police force, and in the meanwhile, interim Chief Adrian Diaz has been in charge.
Out of 15 applicants provided to a search committee this spring, the three finalists—Diaz, Eric Greening, assistant chief of police in Seattle, and Kevin Hall, assistant chief of police in Tucson, Arizona—have been chosen.
While making the announcement, Mayor of Seattle Jim Harrell said, “Our national selection procedure has placed community voices at the center to discover what priorities and values Seattle citizens want to see in the new police chief.”
Following this thorough procedure, the committee identified three exceptional individuals who possess the experience, education, and character traits necessary to advance the One Seattle vision of a community in which every citizen has the right to feel secure.
“To ensure that our community’s expectations for candidates in terms of accountability, leadership that prioritizes the needs of the community, and creativity are met, our selection committee and evaluators have prioritized those traits in the candidates they have advanced. I am excited to interview and assess these potential hires,” said the city’s mayor.
The appointment of a permanent police chief is governed by a number of provisions in the City Charter. According to the Charter, the mayor must hold a competitive examination to determine the top three candidates for the position of police chief. The City Council must also approve the appointment of this official.
An outside agency was brought in back in April to help with the hunt for a permanent police head by scouring the country for qualified applicants. In order to choose the individuals who would go on to the testing phase, Mayor Harrell formed a search committee comprised of 14 prominent members of the community, including professionals in law enforcement, victim advocates, and others.
The search effort has been greatly aided by input and participation from the local community. In May, seven different language versions of a public poll were made available. The survey findings, from which over 1,300 locals participated, are shown below.
In addition, over the months of July and August, seven community dialogues were organized so that locals could have their say in the search. In July, the Empower Initiative encouraged talks with many communities, including the religious, corporate, immigration, and youth sectors. The Chief job attracted applications from fifteen qualified individuals. The search committee interviewed each candidate and then shortlisted a smaller group to take the exam.
The competitive examination mandated by the charter was given on September 6 and 7 and was overseen by four public safety specialists. All of the committee members agreed that the top three candidates should move on to the mayor’s office. There will be a series of interviews with the candidates, culminating in a question-and-answer session on September 15. The Seattle Channel will be broadcasting the evening event.
Photo by AdamCohn