Mayor, Chief announce new command staff at SPD

Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole today announced a major restructuring of the department’s command staff. Four new assistant chiefs and a chief information officer have been appointed to lead policing and reform efforts at the department.

“This reorganization of our command staff is an important step in our year-long effort to build a stronger police department,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Each of these additions will support the department’s efforts to fight crime, comply with federally mandated court orders and build a national model for urban policing.”

The four new assistant chiefs include two candidates promoted internally and two candidates brought in from outside the department. Each has a strong track record of law enforcement leadership and innovation in his or her respective department and career assignments.

The two assistant chiefs promoted from within the Seattle Police Department are:

  • Captain Steve Wilske, currently the commander of the Southwest Precinct, will head Patrol Operations. Wilske has served for more than 28 years with the department in a variety of roles, including Homicide and Crime Scene Investigation, Force Investigation Team and significant time as both a patrol officer and sergeant in downtown Seattle.
  • Lieutenant Lesley Cordner, currently serving as the sworn Aide to the Chief, will head
    Compliance and Professional Standards. Cordner, who joined the department in 1989, has worked in Domestic Violence, North Precinct Operations and a variety of other assignments.

The two chiefs hired from outside of SPD are:

  • Superintendent Robert Merner, currently of the Boston Police Department, will head Investigations. Superintendent Merner has worked in the Investigative Bureau of BPD, holding every rank and a variety of assignments. Merner has been a leader in the field of interview and eyewitness accuracy, and has investigative experience ranging from drugs and gangs to homicide and forensics.
  • Perry Tarrant, currently the coordinator of the Gang Free Initiative in the City of Yakima, will head Special Operations and Homeland Security. Previously, Mr. Tarrant served for 34 years with the Tucson Police Department in a variety of roles both as an officer and a commander. Mr. Tarrant is the Vice President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

“I chose these four commanders because they are innovators who share my drive for progress and passion for public service” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “Together, we will continue to build on the foundation of reform laid over the last eight months.”

Additionally, SPD has hired a new Chief Information Officer, Greg Russell, to lead their efforts to improve police service and departmental transparency. “We could not be more excited about bringing Greg on board,” said Seattle Police Department Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers. “His experiences developing new and innovative uses of technology will be pivotal as we strategically deploy data and technology to aid our officers in the field and improve service to our city.”

Russell will explore new ways to track and potentially predict crime by developing or implementing new technology tools that sort through vast amounts of crime data collected by the department. He will be responsible for information technology at the department, and the body worn video pilot project.

Russell worked at Amazon as a vice president who oversaw the company’s corporate applications, enterprise data warehouse and information technology.

Each of the assistant chiefs will earn $189,247 annually. Cordner and Wilske start March 11, while Merner and Tarrant start April 15. The new CIO will earn $180,000 annually, and starts March 17.