Seattle Police Chief
Seattle is one step closer to having a new police chief. A committee appointed by Mayor Ed Murray announced on Friday the names of three finalists for the job. Each of the candidates is from out of state, as expected. The finalists are Robert Lehner, chief of the Elk Grove, California police department; Frank Milstead, Mesa, Arizona's police chief; Kathleen O'Toole, former Boston Police Department commissioner. Murray is planning to select a chief by the middle of this month. After that the City Council will need to approve his choice. Seattle has had interim police chiefs since last April when John Diaz retired.
With federally mandated police reforms underway and a history of complicated politics in the department's top ranks, the new chief will step into a tough role. One of the committee's co-chairs, Pramila Jayapal, said that each of the candidates saw the reforms not just as a challenge but also as an opportunity to improve the department. The finalists also inquired, the committee's other co-chair Ron Sims said, about bringing in their own assistant chiefs. The City Council voted in January to change an ordinance that allowed only captains and lieutenants from inside the force to be promoted to the coveted high-ranking positions.
Sims also noted that each of the finalists is comfortable using new policing technologies. He specifically mentioned body cameras and databases that can help improve the deployment of officers and other resources. Seattle is getting ready to implement a body camera pilot program, which will involve about a dozen officers. (The Mesa police department, where Milstead is chief, has had 50 officers wearing the cameras for about a year.) Seattle is also on the verge of investing millions of dollars in a system that will track information about officers' performance; the so-called business intelligence system is considered integral to meeting the terms of the federally mandated reforms.
Seattle Police Officers Guild president Ron Smith, who was a member of the search committee, said he is excited to see who the mayor will choose. "We definitely are gonna get a change agent," he said. "I'm hoping by the end of the next five years, people will come to this city to use the Seattle Police Department as a model of how things are done." — B.L.
Cyrus Habib gets a nod
In an interview with Robert Mak for Crosscut, outgoing state Sen. Rodney Tom tips his hand on who he hopes will succeed him: Democratic Rep. Cyrus Habib. Tom, the maverick Democrat who joined with Republicans to run the state Senate, said he doesn't always agree with Habib but that the freshman representative is extremely smart. "I guess the one thing that I've learned in my 12 years of politics, I would rather have somebody that is smart that I disagree with." He added, "Now, will Cyrus want my endorsement?"
A couple of other highlights: Tom thinks that the Legislature would have come up with a transportation package if Christine Gregoire were still governor. And he was surprised at the level of "adult babysitting" required with Republicans within his Majority Coalition Caucus. You can check out the full interview here. — J.C.
Pot licenses: Lucky lottery numbers
Now you can get your first look at where your friendly neighborhood marijuana store will likely be -- or if such a store will be in your neighborhood. The Washington State Liquor Control Board announced today the lottery numbers and locations of the first legal pot shops in the state. The businesses were picked from a lottery of 1,174 applicants. Washington is planning to allow 334 stores statewide. The top lottery finalists will still have to go through thorough background checks and other additional vetting. If anyone fails, the state slides down the list to look at the next ranking applicants. In Seattle, the first 21 stores qualify for the next step. Retail sales are expected to begin this summer. — J.S.
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