Three other police chiefs are top candidates to become Seattle’s next police chief, a source said today, one day after The Seattle Times reported that former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole had emerged as a top candidate for the job.
They are Robert Lehner, the chief in Elk Grove, Calif., who previously served as police chief in Eugene, Ore.; Patrick R. Melvin, the police chief of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona; and Frank Milstead, chief of the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department and formerly a commander with the Phoenix Police Department.
Lehner has more than 30 years of law-enforcement experience and also served as an assistant chief in Tucson, Ariz., according to the department’s website. He has a master of business administration degree from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Business and Public Administration.
Prior to becoming police chief of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Melvin was police chief in Maricopa, Ariz., where he also served as interim public safety director, interim fire chief and interim assistant city manager. He has a master of education degree from Northern Arizona University.
Milstead is the son of the late Ralph “Tom” Milstead, who was a Phoenix police administrator before he led the Arizona Department of Public Safety through several crises during a nine-year stint that ended in 1989, according to The Arizona Republic. Milstead holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of the University of Louisville Southern Police Institute Chief Executive Leadership Program.
The four candidates were selected by Mayor Ed Murray’s 12-member search committee.
Murray has said he plans to announce his choice the week of May 19. The nominee will then be considered by the City Council for confirmation.
The two co-chairs of the search committee, Pramila Jayapal and Ron Sims, confirmed the names in a news release issued today by the mayor’s office, saying they were doing so because the names had been disclosed in the news media.
“While we value the importance of confidentiality to the police chief search, we determined that, with the identities of some candidates now publicly known, a fully confidential process is no longer possible at this stage,” Jayapal said in the statement.
“We also understand and appreciate the public’s desire to know details of this critically important process as it unfolds. Which is why at this time we are confirming that the Search Committee is asking the four outstanding candidates recently identified in the press to complete a competitive exam before potentially advancing to the next stage of the vetting process for the chief of police position,” she added.
“Over the coming weeks, we will continue to screen and thoroughly evaluate these and other applicants as the Search Committee makes progress toward our goal of recommending the best three individuals from our highly talented pool of applicants to Mayor Murray for his final review and selection by mid-May,” Jayapal said.
Sims, in the statement, said, “Each of the candidates identified thus far has the background, the skills and the commitment that Mayor Murray has articulated as critical attributes of the next chief of police – integrity, management experience, the ability to be a change agent and drive reform. All are highly regarded in their communities and each would make incredible contributions to ours.”
Sims is a former King County executive and ex-deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Jayapal is 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.
Seattle’s previous chief, John Diaz, retired a year ago. Since then, Jim Pugel and then Harry Bailey have acted as interim chiefs of the department.