Adrian Diaz is no longer Seattle police chief

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz has been removed from his position as the city’s top cop, sources said Wednesday morning.

Mayor Bruce Harrell has called a news conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. during which he will make “a major public safety announcement,” according to a news release.

The shakeup is the culmination of months of internal strife and a series of allegations that Diaz’s police force was unwelcoming and even discriminatory toward women and people of color.

Although Diaz has forcefully denied the allegations, several of which are under review by an outside investigator, his hold on the department at a crucial time for the city was becoming increasingly tenuous.

With Diaz’s ouster, Seattle police are now without a leader as they continue to lose officers and struggle to emerge from the oversight of a federal judge, parts of which ended last year. For Mayor Bruce Harrell, the task is to find someone who can balance politics, law enforcement and community expectations.

Diaz held the position for nearly four years – the first two as interim chief.

His ascension to the position follows the chaos of 2020. Diaz took over when former Chief Carmen Best resigned amid controversy over her handling of this summer’s protests and her opposition to the city council’s policy goals, which included reducing the size and scope of power. department.

Harrell launched a search for a permanent leader when he took office in 2022, but ultimately opted against a change in leadership so early in his mayoral tenure.

Diaz joined the police department in 1997, was promoted to deputy chief in 2017 and became deputy chief in July 2020, a month before becoming interim chief.

He was born in Santa Ana, California and raised in Anaheim, California, then moved to Mercer Island while in high school. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

Diaz spent his early years in the police department doing youth and community outreach work. He began his career on patrol and was assigned to a bicycle unit before working as an undercover officer with the anti-crime squad. He later joined the Bureau of Investigation. As deputy chief, Diaz was responsible for the department’s Collaborative Policing Office.

As chief, Diaz oversaw the deployment of the department’s community service officer program, a team of civilians tasked with taking on tasks that do not require sworn officers.

Since Diaz took office, his tenure has been defined by the decreasing number of deployable officers in the department. Although this trend began before he took office, the total number of officers has fallen to fewer than 1,000, down from nearly 1,400 before the pandemic.

Diaz triaged resources, removing specialized units in favor of patrols. These decisions have often sparked controversy, such as when the department’s sexual assault unit stopped investigating new cases.

The ministry had pledged that its workforce would be 30% women by 2030, but its efforts failed. An internally commissioned report reveals that women in the department are generally unhappy and view their opportunities as much more limited than those of their male colleagues.

This damning report, combined with recent lawsuits filed by longtime female employees, has increased the demand for change at City Hall.

As for replacing Diaz, the tension is often whether to hire him internally or externally. Both Best and Diaz have risen through the ranks of the department, which is positive in the eyes of some, but limiting their ability to make change in the eyes of others. Before Best was selected by then-Mayor Jenny Durkan in 2018, some members of the search committee — including current Deputy Mayor Tim Burgess — pushed for an external hire that could help overhaul the culture of the department.

The latest external hire was Kathleen O’Toole, who was brought in to help fulfill the long-standing agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to review the department’s use of force practices. She resigned in 2017.

Despite the end of much federal oversight, the overhaul of the department’s use-of-force practices remains unfinished, largely because the judge overseeing it is unhappy with the city’s accountability systems.

The next leader will also have the mission of straightening out recruitment. The mayor recently signed a new collective bargaining agreement with the officers’ union, granting significant raises to most workers.

Leave a Comment