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November 27, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Longtime SPD assistant chief Nick Metz told to step aside

Assistant Chief Nick Metz, one of the most visible and longest serving members of the command staff in the Seattle Police Department, is being removed in the wake of a highly critical report on the progress of police reforms, according to sources familiar with the move.

As part of continuing shake-up in the top ranks, Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel has given Metz an ultimatum: take an assignment to captain or accept a severance package, the sources said.

In an emotional written message to the community and department this afternoon, Metz said he has accepted the change and pledged to serve the city with the “same level of care and professionalism that I promised when I took my oath over thirty years ago.”

Pugel’s action represents the most dramatic personnel fallout since the city entered into a July 2012 settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.

Word of the decision has swept through the department, sending shock waves through the ranks.

Metz declined to comment.

As part of the changes, Capt. Carmen Best, who heads the South Precinct, is to be promoted to assistant chief, one source said. Capt. John Hayes Jr. will take her spot in the South Precinct, the source said.

Pugel earlier this week informed the department of the demotion of Assistant Chief Dick Reed, who asked to return to the rank of captain.

Reed has overseen the department’s technology and data-collection operations, which came under sharp criticism in a Nov. 15 draft report by the federal monitor overseeing the city’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. The agreement calls for reforms to address the use of excessive force and biased policing.

The draft report from the monitor, Merrick Bobb, also cited resistance to the reforms in the top ranks of the Police Department, although he did not  provide names.

Previously, Metz served as one of two deputy chiefs, the second highest rank in the department, until Pugel eliminated the position when he became interim chief in April. Metz was moved to the rank of assistant chief, where he currently oversees the Investigations Bureau.

Metz, 51, joined the Police Department in 1983. He was promoted to assistant chief in October 2001.

Metz previously headed the Patrol Operations bureau, at a time when the department came under scrutiny.

City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the council’s public-safety committee, said today that Pugel had been asked who should be held responsible for public perceptions about decades of misconduct.

Pugel was asked to seriously look at the issue and make changes he believed to be appropriate, Harrell said.

“We’re asking him to make tough decisions,” Harrell said.

Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Department of Justice, Federal monitor, Nick Metz


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