SEATTLE – City Council voted 8-1 to confirm Kathleen O’Toole as the next Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department (SPD). O’Toole began work with the Boston Police Department in 1979 and has over three decades of experience as a police officer, Commissioner, Chief Inspector and attorney.
“Chief O’Toole has earned an international reputation for her ability to lead and inspire officers, change and reform a department and work with communities from the ground up to reduce crime in urban neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee.
O’Toole’s top four priorities are: 1) restoring public trust, 2) restoring SPD pride and professionalism, 3) addressing crime and quality of life issues, and 4) promoting best business practices. O’Toole has committed during the first 90 days to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the police department, which would culminate in a plan of action with measurable goals and objectives.
The Council also presented written expectations for O’Toole. Progress reports will be submitted to Council quarterly, beginning at the end of the third quarter of 2014. Council would like to see progress in these major areas: focused and proactive crime reduction using evidence-based methods to reduce the most serious neighborhood crime problems; positively change the culture at SPD and attitudes related to the practice of collecting and reporting the required data for the six new policies developed as part of the Settlement Agreement; build community relationships in all neighborhoods with a consistent visible presence; and, prioritize build out of the Business Intelligence System.
Council’s confirmation vote concludes the City’s six month-long process to find a new Police Chief. Mayor Murray launched a national search in January with an extensive public outreach plan that included seven community workshops throughout Seattle and an online forum to receive feedback. To reach non-English speaking communities, online and print advertisements were placed in Somali, African-American, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese publications.
The Mayor appointed community members to two committees. The Community Advisory Committee consisted of a 32-member panel representing the diverse communities of Seattle and assisted in providing feedback from a community perspective. Secondly, a 12-member Search Committee was formed to screen all applicants and tasked to present the Mayor with three finalists.
Council President Tim Burgess stated, “Chief O’Toole has the skillset, experience and personality to move our police department forward through a new era of reform and improvement. The women and men of the department who work tirelessly on our behalf yearn for the clear leadership and direction Chief O’Toole will bring.”
“What an opportunity! I welcome Ms. O’Toole’s approach to building neighborhood-specific policing plans,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “She will be a great partner to those of us working to make downtown and our other neighborhoods safe and welcoming for everyone. I am delighted she has been selected to lead the Seattle Police Department and look forward to making Seattle a positive model for cooperative policing.”
“I’m looking forward to Chief O’Toole taking over,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark. “She’s demonstrated great leadership and accomplishment in her career leading to this step. I’m impressed with her depth of knowledge and commitment to high caliber policing and safe neighborhoods in Seattle.”
“A rigorous search revealed the best candidate for Seattle’s next police chief as Kathleen O’Toole,” said Councilmember Jean Godden. “It is a proud day for Seattle to confirm such a qualified leader, and a woman, as police chief.”
“We have hired O’Toole for one major task: reform our police department. The Council’s task is to help her succeed,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “If she does, we will have more responsive and effective policing in our city.”
The Mayor announced O’Toole as his appointee on May 19. The Public Safety committee conducted three confirmation meetings: June 4, June 11 and June 12. The June 11th meeting was held offsite in the community at New Holly Gathering Hall. As part of the extensive outreach process, the committee sent approximately one thousand emails to community groups and ethnic minority groups asking for feedback and making them aware of the police chief confirmation process. Feedback was also solicited on Council’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Chief of Police will manage an annual operating budget of approximately $290 million and will be responsible for leading and managing 2,000 employees at SPD.
For more information regarding Kathleen O’Toole, please visit the following links:
• Council’s Police Chief Confirmation Website
• Kathleen O’Toole’s Confirmation Packet
• Council’s written letter of expectations to Chief O’Toole
• Kathleen O’Toole’s written confirmation questions and answers
• Kathleen O’Toole’s written exam