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May 2, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Search for Seattle police chief narrowed to 3 finalists

Bertie Ahern, Michael McDowell, Kathleen O'Toole

Kathleen O’Toole

The search for Seattle’s next police chief has been narrowed to three finalists.

The finalists are Kathleen O’Toole, former Boston police commissioner; Robert Lehner, police chief in Elk Grove, Calif.; and Frank Milstead, chief of the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department.

No longer in the running is Patrick R. Melvin, the police chief of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona, according to the co-chair of the search committee, Pramila Jayapal.

She said the city received nearly four dozen applicants.

Jayapal said the city is seeking a “bold and courageous police chief.” Ron Sims, search committe co-chair, called the finalists “exceptional.”

Murray plans to announce by mid-May his choice to head a police department buffeted by controversy and a federally mandated consent decree requiring reforms to curb excessive force and biased policing. The nominee will then be considered by the City Council for confirmation. The newly announced timing is a shift from Murray’s previous statement that he would make the choice the week of May 19.

O’Toole, 59, served as Boston’s police commissioner from 2004 to 2006 and is now working as a consultant. She also served as chief inspector of Ireland’s national police from 2006 to 2012, garnering a reputation as an internationally recognized expert on police oversight who in 2013 was appointed to oversee police reforms in East Haven, Conn.

If selected, she would become Seattle’s first female police chief.


Frank Milstead

Milstead, 51, who in Mesa leads a department of 1,200 sworn and civilian employees, notes in his department biography his emphasis on “street-level crime fighting, community partnership, economic efficiency and transparency through technology.” He previously served for 25 years in the Phoenix Police Department, holding various command positions.

Lehner, 58, became the police chief in Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, in 2008, overseeing a department of 131 sworn officers and 79 civilian employees. He previously was police chief in Eugene, Ore., and once served as assistant chief in Tucson, Ariz.

In Eugene, he assumed the chief’s job in 2004 at a time when the department was under heavy scrutiny, stung by allegations that two officers used their positions to sexually exploit women while on duty, according to a Eugene Register-Guard story. Both were subsequently convicted of crimes.

John Diaz, Seattle’s previous police chief, retired a year ago. Harry Bailey is currently serving as interim chief.


Robert Lehner


Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Ed Murray, Seattle Police Department


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