SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, who helped negotiate federal oversight of the Seattle Police Department after officers were found to routinely use excessive force, announced Wednesday that she will leave office at the end of the month. But she doesn't know what's next.
"It's one of the first times in my life that I have not had a job and have no job lined up," said Durkan, 56, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to serve as the top federal law enforcement officer for the Western District of Washington.
As a lawyer, she said, there is no better job than being a U.S. attorney, because "at the end of the day, your job is justice."
When asked why she's leaving with three years left in her term, she said, "it seemed like this was a good time for me, for my family and for the office to take on a different challenge."
Attorney General Eric Holder praised Durkan as "a tireless advocate for the American people, the citizens of Washington State and for the cause of justice."
"Jenny Durkan exemplifies the highest standards of personal integrity and professional excellence," Holder said in a statement. "For the past five years, I have been grateful for Jenny's dedicated service and her wise counsel."
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes will likely step in when Durkan leaves.
Washington state's senators will begin the process of recommending a replacement to the White House. Obama will then nominate a new U.S. attorney to the Senate for confirmation.
In the post, Durkan was involved in talks where Seattle agreed to an independent monitor of the police force as part of a deal with the Justice Department over excessive force. She also has led the federal agency's subcommittee on cybercrime and intellectual property enforcement.
Cybercrime is "the single greatest threat to our national security, privacy and economy," Durkan said. "It has an impact on every person, every company and our country."
Shifts in technology and innovations have led to privacy concerns and left the U.S. vulnerable, she said.
In one example, Durkan's office prosecuted Russian hacker Roman Seleznev, whose laptop contained 1 to 2 million stolen credit card numbers when he was arrested, she said. He pleaded not guilty to 29 charges Aug. 8.
Durkan, who's the daughter of late Democratic state Sen. Martin Durkan and previously served as Gov. Chris Gregoire's longtime counsel, said she has no political aspirations. She plans to stay in Seattle and wants to serve the community.
"I think that it's very important for people in any public service role to remember that they serve for the public and not for themselves," Durkan said. "It's far easier to stay too long than to leave at the right time."
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