I want to thank Mayor Durkan for this opportunity. She and I share the same public safety vision for moving Seattle forward, and making this the best city it can be for everyone.
I’d also like to take this moment to especially thank the men and women, both sworn and civilian, of the Seattle Police Department who serve this city everyday with service, pride and dedication. Trust me when I say, the Seattle Police Department is one of the premier agencies in the country, and that I look forward to being your Chief. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank the community for their unwavering support — many of whom I’ve worked with for more than two and a half decades.
Every day our officers show up and are committed to making Seattle a safer, better city. With our rapid growth comes new challenges for public safety and new demands on policing. Our department needs to reflect our growing city, and the community we serve. This means increasing the number of officers who are working in our communities.
Here in Seattle, and across the country, our officers are being asked to do more, especially at the complicated intersection of public health and public safety. We must continue to provide support and access to resources to members of our community who are struggling with mental health crisis, addiction, and homelessness.
Since 2012, Seattle has been under a Court ordered Consent Decree for unconstitutional policing. The reforms created a foundation for an accountable police department that serves the public and enhances public safety in a way that is consistent with our community values and the Constitution.
We enacted significant reforms: new use of force policies and training that emphasizes de-escalation, a new approach to how officers interact with people experiencing mental crisis, new supervision and oversight with community involvement were created and implemented. These changes are showing results, saving lives and enhancing trust. There has been a decrease in uses of force overall – including a 60 percent reduction of the most serious uses of force – and a significant decline in force used against people in crisis.
Eight months ago, in January, The Honorable James Robart ruled that the City of Seattle in “full and effective compliance,” but the work is not done – not in Seattle and not across our country. As the new police Chief, I’ll continue to help lead our Department through reform. As we enter the next phase of the consent decree, we will move ahead with a culture of continuous improvement and innovation at the Seattle Police Department. This is what I expect, and what our community deserves. I know great things are ahead.
As part of the Police Chief search process, we heard from thousands of community members. One of the most important qualifications that people wanted was a candidate who demonstrated an ability to build trust and confidence with people across widely diverse communities in a large city.
Community trust is fragile. One interaction can break the foundation we’ve worked so hard to build.
Often times when I’m meeting with the community, I’ve come to find we have more in common than we realize. We agree that we have serious problems in policing. We agree that people are not treated equally this country. We agree that community trust in the police has been shaken. We agree that our department must increase diversity and ensure our officers reflect the communities we serve. But most importantly, we agree that we all need to do something about it. The support from the community has been inspiring. We must take the energy the community has I’d like to harness this energy demonstrated over the past few weeks and channel that into ways we can all work together, moving the department forward for a safer Seattle, with equitable police services for all.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chief of Police in this great city—a city that I love, with a department that I love. I am committed to the safety, equity, unity and diversity of our city, and fair and just treatment for all.