The man who will be Seattle’s interim police chief after John Diaz steps down anticipates having a good working relationship with the federal monitor who is overseeing police reforms.
Jim Pugel said during an interview today that he met for two hours Tuesday with the monitor, Merrick Bobb, and members of Bobb’s team. He characterized the meeting as “very refreshing,” and said “we’re all moving forward.”
Pugel, 53, will become interim chief when Diaz retires in 30 to 45 days. Diaz announced he was leaving on Monday.
Pugel was one of 11 semifinalists for the job of police chief after Gil Kerlikowske stepped down in 2009 to become the nation’s drug czar. Diaz was ultimately chosen for the post.
Diaz, in announcing his retirement, said it was Mayor Mike McGinn’s decision to appoint Pugel as interim chief.
Pugel’s work ethic, lengthy career with the department and implementation of an investigative team to examine officers’ use of force and a force-review board — as well as his work on the innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, in which officers can divert low-level drug dealers and addicts into treatment instead of taking them to jail — weighed in Pugel’s favor, Diaz said.
During today’s interview, Pugel said Diaz could’ve opted to leave on Monday, but is graciously helping Pugel transition into his new assignment. Though Pugel is a longtime member of the department’s command staff, he said he plans to spend as much time as possible learning the nuances of the job from Diaz.
Pugel said he doesn’t know if he will seek the police chief’s job permanently once the city begins looking for candidates. He expects the process could take up to a year.
Pugel started with the Seattle Police Department as a volunteer reserve police officer in 1981, according to the department. He was hired as a full-time officer in January 1983 and promoted to sergeant seven years later.
He supervised the East Precinct and Basic Training Academy before being promoted to lieutenant in January 1994.
He was a watch commander and an operations lieutenant in the East Precinct before taking command of the Sexual Assault Unit. He also was the administrative aide to the chief before being promoted to captain of the West Precinct in March 1999.
The Seattle native is a University of Washington graduate.