CHIEF of POLICE & Command Staff
Chief Kathleen O'Toole was sworn in as Chief of the Seattle Police Department on June 23rd, 2014.
Chief O'Toole is a career police officer and lawyer who has earned an international reputation for her principled leadership and reform strategies.
In 2012, Ms. O’Toole completed a six-year term as Chief Inspector of the Gardia Síochána Inspectorate, an oversight body responsible for bringing reform, best practice and accountability to the 17,000 member Irish national police service.read more
Prior to serving in Ireland, Ms. O’Toole rose through the ranks of local and state policing in the United States. During her police career, she was assigned to numerous patrol, investigative, undercover, supervisory and management positions. She served as Superintendent (Chief) of the Metropolitan District Commission Police and Lieutenant Colonel overseeing Special Operations in the Massachusetts State Police. She was later appointed Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety (1994) and Boston Police Commissioner (2004).
Deputy Chief Carmen Best oversees the Patrol Operations, Criminal Investigations, Special Operations Bureaus, and the Community Outreach section.
Carmen Best has worked for the Seattle Police Department since 1992. Her assignments include Uniformed Patrol, School Safety, Department Spokeswomen, Patrol Supervisor, Media Relations Supervisor, Watch Commander, Operations Lieutenant, Narcotics Proactive Commander, Robbery/Gangs/Fugitive Commander, Community Outreach Commander, South Precinct Commander, and Assistant Chief of Investigations.
Carmen has a B. A. from Western Illinois University, a certificate in Police Management from the University of Washington and certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia. She completed the Senior Management Institute for Police in 2006, the FBI National Academy in 2010 and the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Academy in 2013. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Latino Police Officers Association, The International Association of Chief’s of Police and Tabor 100. She is an avid supporter of the A+ program for youth and is on the trustee board of Lakeside School.
Deputy Chief Best was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and has five generations of family living in the Seattle/Tacoma area. She is married and has two daughters who are both attending college.
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) oversees the Chief Administrative Officer, Compliance and Professional Standards Section, Field Support Bureau, as well as the Budget, Human Resources, Information Technology, Strategic Policy and Planning and Public Affairs sections.
Mike most recently worked for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as the Director of Law Enforcement Operations and Support. Mike has also served as the executive director of the Police Institute at Rutgers, and assistant professor at The Citadel. He also worked for BAE Systems in the information solutions sector. He has consulted with police departments across the country, including Los Angeles, Denver, and Milwaukee police departments. Mike received his Ph.D. from Rutgers.
Assistant Chief Steve Wilske commands the Patrol Operations Bureau.
Steve Wilske has served for over 28 years with the Seattle Police Department. He started his career as a Patrol Officer in the West Precinct, followed by assignments in the Mountain Bike Squad and Mounted Unit. He has commanded the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) and HNT (Hostage Negotiations Team), Robbery , Gangs, Homicide and Crime Scene Investigations unit. In 2013, he oversaw the creation of the new Force Investigations Team (FIT), and chaired the department’s Force Review Board.read more
Since February 2014, Wilske has commanded the Southwest Precinct, which encompasses both West Seattle and the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. Wilske has an Associate of Applied Science degree in commercial diving from Highline Community College.
Assistant Chief Robert Merner commands the Criminal Investigations Section
Robert M. Merner joined the Seattle Police Department after 28 years in the Boston Police Department. Merner has 22 years of investigative experience, holding every rank in the BPD’s Investigative Bureau. As a commander of the BPD Criminal Investigation Division, Merner oversaw the Homicide, Fugitive, Crime Scene Response and Forensic units, as well as the Firearms Discharge Investigation Team, which reviews all officer-involved shootings.read more
In 2008, Merner collaborated with the Boston Bar Association Task Force to improve police investigations and prevent wrongful convictions. He has Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University, and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy. He is also a four-time recipient of the Boston Police Department Medal of Honor.
Assistant Chief Perry Tarrant commands the Special Operations Bureau.
Perry Tarrant has 34 years of law enforcement experience with the Tucson Police Department. He started his career working patrol, and also held assignments in canine, SWAT, bomb squad, aviation, and internal affairs. In 2014, Tarrant was appointed to coordinate the City of Yakima’s Gang Free Initiative’s prevention and intervention programs and to act as the city’s Emergency Preparedness Director.read more
Tarrant has a Master’s from Northern Arizona University (NAU), a Certificate of Graduate Study in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona. He holds additional certificates from the FBI National Academy, Senior Management Institute for Police, NOBLE Law Enforcement CEO, and is a FEMA certified Incident Commander/Instructor. Tarrant also serves as the Vice President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
Assistant Chief Lesley Cordner commands the Compliance and Professional Standards Bureau.
Lesley Cordner joined the Seattle Police Department in 1989. She has worked a variety of assignments in Patrol, Community Policing, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Office of Professional Accountability, Traffic Collision Investigations Squad, North Precinct Operations, and most recently as an Aide to Chief O’Toole.read more
Cordner is originally from Ireland, and has lived in the greater Seattle area since emigrating to the United States. She graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduating, she worked for the Boeing Company and Seattle City Light as a mechanical engineer before joining the department.
Valarie Anderson is the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and oversees the Fiscal, Property and Fleets, Research Grants & Corporate Support, Data Center, and Records & Public Requests Sections.
Valarie Anderson began her career with the Seattle Police Department in September 1990 as the Fiscal Manager where she managed accounts payable, accounts receivable, grants accounting, forfeiture accounting, cash accounting, and departmental purchasing. In May 2001, she was promoted to Director of Fiscal Property & Fleet where she continued her leadership and management role in all aspects of accounting and purchasing and worked closely with the departmental budget.read more
In addition, she was responsible for the effective and efficient management of all departmental vehicles and motor pool operations; as well as for the provision of logistical support, equipment, and supplies for all departmental employees during routine and special events. Valarie was promoted to CAO effective April 2008.
Valarie graduated from Northeast Louisiana University with a BA in Accounting in 1979 and from City University in 1998 with a Masters of Public Administration. She has been a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Washington since 1985 and is a current member of the Washington State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Valarie is an alumnus of City of Seattle’s Advanced Management Program and a 2010 graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University.
Greg Russell will lead the next phases SPD’s tech-focused projects, including the body worn camera pilot project and improved use of data and analytics to predict and prevent crime. Previously, Russell worked as a vice president at Amazon.com, overseeing the company’s corporate applications, enterprise data warehouse and IT.
Barb Graff is the Director of Seattle Office of Emergency Management
Director Barb Graff's responsibilities include managing the multi-hazard interdepartmental emergency management program for the City of Seattle and coordinating its relation to other emergency response agencies and community groups. The program encompasses all phases of integrated emergency management including preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.
Ms. Graff has been the Seattle Director since June of 2005.read more
Boards and Committees
Ms. Graff currently chairs the national Emergency Management Program Review Committee and serves on the Emergency Management Accreditation Commission. Ms Graff serves on the King County Advisory Committee on Emergency Management and Regional Homeland Security Council. She is a member of the Washington State Emergency Management Association and the International Association of Emergency Management. She co-chairs the Board of Directors for the Washington Information Network 2-1-1 (WIN 2-1-1) information referral system.
Ms. Graff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Washington.
Pierce Murphy is the Director of the Office of Professional Accountability
Previously, Pierce spent over 14 years as the Community Ombudsman for the City of Boise in Idaho. As Boise’s first ombudsman, Pierce created Idaho’s first and only civilian oversight of law enforcement agency. In 1972 he began working in law enforcement in both civilian and sworn positions. After receiving his baccalaureate and master degrees, Pierce started a successful career in human resource management and consulting. Pierce has been active professionally in the field of civilian oversight of law enforcement and has advised cities and counties across the United States on this topic.
Mr. Murphy has been the OPA Director in Seattle since July 1, 2013.read more
He is a past president and former member of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and frequent speaker at their annual training conference. Pierce has always been an active volunteer in his community and a proud member of Rotary since 1988.
- Santa Clara University – Bachelor of Science in Commerce - 1978
- Gonzaga University – Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology - 1984
- Loyola University of New Orleans – Master of Pastoral Studies - 2000