The search for Seattle’s next police chief has been narrowed to 10 candidates, all from out of state, according to sources familiar with the search.
The only internal candidate to apply, Assistant Chief Nick Metz, was among 10 applicants removed from a list of 20 candidates reviewed on Friday by Mayor Ed Murray’s search committee, the sources said, without revealing names of those who remain in contention.
With Murray poised to make his selection the week of May 19, the 12-member search committee plans to interview the remaining candidates next week, according to the sources.
Pramila Jayapal, one of two co-chairs of the committee, confirmed the numbers, interview schedule and out-of-state profile of the remaining candidates. She declined to comment on Metz in light of the committee’s policy to not discuss the names of applicants.
“It’s a good pool,” she said of those still on the list, a description echoed by one source who said the city is in a position to make an outstanding choice.
Murray is to be handed the committee’s list of top candidates in early May, from which three finalists will be made public by midmonth, according to the mayor’s office.
The removal of Metz’s name and the lack of any internal candidates is not a surprise, considering the department’s leadership came under scrutiny and criticism in the wake of the city’s 2012 settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Murray hasn’t ruled out any candidates, but it has been widely anticipated in City Hall and the Police Department that he would pick an outsider to lead the troubled department.
The search committee, appointed by Murray after he took office in January, was shown the names of 39 applicants on Friday for the first time. The meeting lasted for about five hours, one source said.
A California search firm that reviewed applications set aside 19 for lacking full qualifications for the job, but the committee was shown the names in case there was interest in any of them, sources said.
From the remaining 20, the committee eliminated 10 people, including Metz because the consensus was he shouldn’t be interviewed if he had little chance of being chosen for the job, one source said.
Metz was demoted to captain late last year by the then-interim police chief, Jim Pugel, after the federal monitor overseeing the settlement reforms criticized the pace of change. But Metz was restored to the assistant chief rank after Murray selected a new interim chief, Harry Bailey, a former Seattle assistant chief who came out of retirement to handle the duties. Pugel recently retired from the department.
One potential candidate, former Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel, did not apply for the job, sources said.
Braziel withdrew as a finalist for Seattle’s police-chief job during a search in 2010, but he said in January he was strongly interested in applying again, in part because the political landscape had changed. Braziel said he became concerned in 2010 that then-Mayor Mike McGinn and his top aides lacked the government experience and skills needed to develop a strong working relationship.
The co-chairs of the current search committee are Jayapal, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Community Change and founder and former executive director of OneAmerica, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrant, civil and human rights; and Ron Sims, the former King County executive and ex-deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.