Driven by Community Input, Seattle Police Chief Search Enters Final Phases

Seattle – The City of Seattle has entered the final phases of our search for the next Chief of Police, following a rigorous national search and extensive community engagement. Mayor Bruce Harrell will look to make a decision in the coming weeks among the top candidates identified by the process, based on the qualities and qualifications prioritized by community.

“We designed a community-driven search process – and Seattle residents have spoken about what is important to them,” said Mayor Harrell. “We’ve heard loud and clear that our neighbors want effective public safety, addressing crime and responding to emergencies without bias or an overmilitarized approach. Seattle residents are seeking a police chief who understands and embraces Seattle’s diverse communities, and who will partner with them while leading an ethical and accountable department. In One Seattle, our community has a fundamental right to safety, with the expectation that police services will meet their needs swiftly, justly, and with fairness.” 

The City of Seattle held seven police chief community conversations and a public survey collected resident input on what matters most. Empower Initiative facilitated the first five community conversations in July and two supplemental sessions were held with community partners in August for additional feedback. Over more than three months, community members delivered additional public input through the City’s Chief of Police Search survey. 

Across the July community meetings, an estimated 47% of participants were Black, 33% were youth or young adults, and the Central District was the most represented neighborhood. The August 10 conversation was co-sponsored with equity focused community partners and had over 100 people in attendance. The August 11 conversation was in partnership Duwamish Youth Corp and had about 50 young people in attendance. You can read the report from Empower Initiative here and read the summary notes from the August 10 and August 11 meetings. 

Over 1,300 neighbors responded to our public survey – people who live, work, spend time in, or own a business in Seattle – to share what was most important to them in the police chief search. Respondents prioritized community knowledge and policing, and 70% said ethics and integrity were the most important leadership quality. 64% of survey takers said responding to crime and decreasing 9-1-1 times was their top goal for the chief, making it the most selected option. Community was one of the top recurring words in the open-ended response. See the survey results here

Information from these conversations and the survey have informed the work of the robust community-grounded search committee, including in efforts to identify candidates with qualifications and experiences aligned with community expectations and in development of interview materials. 

On September 8, the top three candidates as determined by the competitive examination will be forwarded to the mayor for his consideration. These three finalists will engage in a series of stakeholder interviews, which will culminate in a candidate question and answer session on the evening of September 15. 

This session will be televised on the Seattle Channel, where candidates will be asked a series of questions submitted by community members. Questions for the candidate address can be submitted here. More information on the event, including airtime and a link to view will be shared closer to September 15.