One of the most significant decisions the Council will make this year involves confirmation of a new police chief to lead our police department. Chief Gil Kerlikowske served as Seattle chief for nine years. Chief Norm Stamper before him served four years. Chief Patrick Fitzsimons served 16 years before Stamper.
The average tenure of a major city police chief in the United States is 3.5 to four years. So in the 29 years since Chief Fitzsimons was first appointed Seattle has had three police chiefs, while the typical large American city would have ground
through about eight. For this reason alone, the confirmation of the new chief is a fairly rare opportunity.
Mayor McGinn will likely send his nominee to the Council in early June. The Mayor has appointed a citizen's committee to help with narrowing the field of applicants. That committee has hired the Police Executive Research Forum as head-hunter consultants.
The Council has already weighed in through passage of Resolution 31184 that lays out policy goals and priorities for the appointment and confirmation of a new Chief of Police. These standards and issues include: the prospective Chief's willingness, demonstrated history and ability to achieve police department performance goals; maintain police department accreditation; gain and maintain the trust and respect of officers, commanders and civilian employees; maintain the highest standards of professionalism; maintain and increase the community's confidence in the police department; ensure that all officers treat all citizens fairly; maintain strong department support of civilian oversight of officer conduct; fully implement the Neighborhood Policing Plan; identify, develop and nurture leaders within the police department; recruit a work force reflective of the diversity of Seattle; and, effectively manage resources while preserving scarce public funds.
The Resolution addresses the Council's interest in encouraging innovation, like what we saw when the police department participated in the Drug Market Initiative along 23rd Avenue between East Union Street and South Jackson Street this past summer. The Council desires a police chief who embraces evidence-based policing and public safety strategies, someone who is willing to foster an internal climate with the department where new ideas are welcomed, the experiences of other cities reviewed, and best practiced developed.
The Council highlighted two specific examples where we believe improvements are necessary: proactive problem-solving policing and information sharing related to the occurrence of crime and crime trends.