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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 10 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 02
'Good enough' not good enough, Mayor tells SPD
Section One
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'Good enough' not good enough, Mayor tells SPD

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Mayor Ed Murray, making good on yet another campaign promise, reshuffled the Seattle police command on January 8, and informed SPD that he would accept nothing less than complete reform of the department's culture.

Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel was replaced by a retired Assistant Chief, Harry Bailey. Within hours of the appointment, Murray sent a lengthy letter to SPD officers, outlining his expectations as he winds up his first week on the job.

Murray was careful to note that his command reassignment was not intended as a reflection on Pugel, who wants to be hired as the permanent police chief. Pugel was appointed by then-mayor Mike McGinn as a temporary replacement after Chief John Diaz retired under heavy criticism. Pugel will return to his prior post as Assistant Chief.

In his letter to Seattle police officers, Murray noted that the department has been operating under a 'settlement agreement' requiring reforms - resulting from a U.S. Justice Department investigation which found SPD guilty of biased policing and excessive use of force.

'The department is currently working to comply with the Settlement Agreement. But none of us should be satisfied with merely 'good enough' in meeting the terms of the agreement,' Murray wrote.

'[W]hile the Seattle Police Department is a good department, in striving for excellence, we must remember that 'good enough, isn't.' We can - and will - do better.' Murray added.

Murray called for 'a police department that is effective at both controlling crime and building trusted relationships in all the communities and neighborhoods that make up the city of Seattle.'

'Community policing must be the department's operating philosophy, not merely a series of special projects,' he insisted in his letter to SPD officers.

'True community policing is about building relationships with the people the department serves and developing solutions to the problems they face. True partnership is about dialogue and relationship,' the Mayor added, repeating one of the themes of his campaign.

'And, when something goes wrong, we must have a swift and comprehensive accountability process that is clearly understood and trusted by all. I am committed to utilizing these principles of community policing throughout the entire city government structure, a practice sometimes referred to as community governance.'

The appointment of Bailey as Interim Chief was greeted with enthusiasm by both unions representing SPD officers.

Capt. Eric Sano, head of the Seattle Police Management Association, which represents captains and lieutenants, said he was 'excited' to work with Bailey at the press conference announcing the appointment.

Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, said he was 'overjoyed' that Murray selected Bailey.

'Harry Bailey had dedicated his entire life to this city,' O'Neill said, adding that he thinks it is crucial that the interim chief is not a person wanting the permanent job, as Pugel does.

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