Police Chief Search

Police Chief Search Announcement

Seattle's Next Police Chief

Few issues are more important than public safety and keeping families in our City safe. The next police chief must be committed to continuing to build an accountable, diverse police department focused on meaningful and lasting reforms and building trust in the community they serve. Our efforts will be developed and implemented with input and leadership from Seattle neighborhoods and communities.

The Search Process

Mayor Durkan launched a national search process to find the best candidate for the permanent police chief.

To comply with the City Charter and maximize community input, the search had two initial phases. The first phase was to conduct deep community engagement and to review all candidates to reduce the list to five finalists. The second was a competitive exam process, which is required by the City Charter - this reduced the number of candidates from five to three. 

As part of the first phase, Mayor Durkan appointed a diverse group of 25 community members to serve on the Police Search Committee. Its members included advocates for our immigrant and refugee neighbors, advocates for criminal justice reform, former and current law enforcement officials and prosecutors, and neighborhood and community voices. You can read about the full search committee here.

Once formed, the Police Chief Search Committee had a series of meetings. All members were briefed in January by the City Attorney's office regarding confidentiality requirements, the full police search process, outreach plan, and competitive examination process. The Police Search Committee also was required to participate in and complete Race and Social Justice training.

The Police Chief Search Committee undertook an extensive community outreach and engagement process - this was in partnership with one of the leading national search firms who has led many major city police chief searches. The Mayor's Office partnered with the Community Police Commission and 50 community stakeholders to host 14 meetings in neighborhoods across Seattle over the course of two months. Understanding that not everyone can attend a community meeting in-person, the Mayor's Office also launched an online survey, available in 15 languages, to help ensure that all Seattle residents had the opportunity to provide feedback on their priorities for our City's next permanent Chief of Police.

More than 60 candidates applied from all over the country, including multiple internal candidates from SPD. After a robust community engagement process, numerous community meetings, extensive review of all applicants and their responses to specific questions, and interviews with six candidates, the Police Search Committee deliberated at length about the candidates, and recommended the following five candidates to the Competitive Exam Process: Carmen Best, Interim Chief of Police, Seattle Police Department; Eddie Frizell, 1st Precinct Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department; Cameron McLay, Former Chief of Police, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief of Police, Austin Police Department; and Jorge Villegas, Assistant Chief of Police, Los Angeles Police Department. These candidates included four people of color as well as one Caucasian.

As the Police Chief Search Committee was informed of at the beginning by the City Attorney's office and again at the end of their selection process, the search then proceeded to the second phase, the Competitive Exam. As required by the City Charter, a police chief "shall be selected by the Mayor from among the three highest ranking candidates in a competitive examination to be conducted under the direction of the Mayor." The Competitive Exam Process then selected the three finalists. The Competitive Exam Process was conducted by: Mike Fong, Senior Deputy Mayor; Shefali Ranganathan, Deputy Mayor, Ron Sims, former King County Executive and previous Co-Chair to the 2014 Police Chief Search; Ian Warner, Legal Counsel to the Mayor and a former member of the Monitoring Team to the Consent Decree; and Barney Melekian, former Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under President Obama.

The Competitive Exam Process included the following criteria for assessment, which were reflective of the responses collected during our community engagement process: the nomination of candidates from the selection committee; a summary of the Search Committee process and views, the recommendations from the Search Committee and its co-chairs, information gathered during the recruitment and selection processes, and written responses to examination questions. Documents from this phase are publicly available here and here. The Competitive Exam Process decided on three finalists to move forward, as required by the City Charter. This included: Eddie Frizell, Carmen Best, and Ely Reyes as the three finalists for permanent Chief of the Seattle Police Department.

Police Chief Finalist Interviews

We asked the three finalists to tell us a little bit about themselves and their vision for Seattle and the Seattle Police Department. Watch to learn more about Carmen Best, the Interim Police Chief for the Seattle Police Department, Eddie Frizell, Inspector from the Minneapolis Police Department, and Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief of the Austin Police Department.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, the City will be conducting extensive site visits to each of these cities and departments where the finalists have served. The site visit team includes many members of the community. The site visits were developed with input from stakeholders and include interviews with a range of community organizations, law enforcement, and other community leaders. Each of those site visits will include meetings with: local branches of the ACLU; NAACP; City Councilmembers; Police Unions; faith leaders; and other key leaders.

Each of the candidates were briefly in Seattle in mid-June for to meet with the Mayor as well as the Community Police Commission. In early July, Mayor Durkan will interview with each of the candidates in July and meet with community leaders. In July, the Mayor will make her choice and nomination, which will be subject to Council approval.

Community Meetings & Community Input Survey

During early 2018, the Police Search Committed led an extensive community outreach process and invited Seattle residents to share their thoughts on the personal characteristics and professional experience that are most important for the individual leading our police.

Our community members played a critical role to play in helping to recruit the next Chief of Police. The City organized a number of community meetings and workshops to make sure that all Seattle residents have an opportunity to share their thoughts about what characteristics and experience is needed in Seattle's next police chief. A full list of workshops and community meeting that occurred is below.

In addition, many neighbors and businesses completed a quick online survey. Through this online survey, community input was utilized to target recruitment efforts when evaluating applicant's knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics.  This information was also used to develop interview questions as well as the competitive exam.

More than 2,600 people from across Seattle took an online survey (an increase from only 191 people who took a similar survey in 2014, during the previous search process) and 95 percent of King County zip codes were represented. You also can read the full Community Input Survey and Engagement Report here.  

Community Input Workshops

Tuesday, March 6th

Southwest -  South Park Neighborhood Association
8201 10th Avenue South, Suite 6 
Seattle, WA 98108-4449

Wednesday, March 7th
Southwest - Southwest Teen Life Center
2801 SW Thistle St
Seattle, WA 98126

Thursday, March 15th
East - Garfield Community Center
2323 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122

Friday, March 16th
Southeast - Rainier Beach Community Center
8825 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Tuesday, March 20th
West - Queen Anne Community Center
1901 1st Ave W
Seattle, WA 98119

Wednesday, March 21st 5:30pm-7:30pm North - Northgate Community Center
10510 5th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125

Friday March 23rd
North - Loyal Heights Community Center
2101 NW 77th St
Seattle, WA 98117

Wednesday, March 28th

West - Chinatown International District Community Center
719 8th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104

Thursday, March 29th
South - Rainier Community Center
4600 38th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Friday, March 30th
North - Laurelhurst Community Center
4554 NE 41st St
Seattle, WA 98105

Community Meetings

Saturday March 3rd

Somali Community Center
8810 Renton Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Wednesday March 14th
Seattle Vocational College
2120 S Jackson St, 4th floor room 401
Seattle, WA 98144

Thursday March 22nd
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
105 14th Ave, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98122

Friday February 23rd
South Park Neighborhood Center
8201 10th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108

You can email any feedback to chiefsearchinfo@seattle.gov.