Seattle police chief to revamp leadership amid shift on use of force

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 10, 2015 5:09 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle's chief of police will replace all four of her assistant chiefs in a management shake-up, a department spokesman said on Tuesday, a move that comes amid changes to department rules on the use of force.

Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole said in a statement she would announce a new leadership team at a news conference on Wednesday, and had told her assistant chiefs on Monday they would be losing their positions, but gave no reason for replacing them.

"I had a discussion with the four current SPD Assistant Chiefs. I explained that I would be announcing a new leadership team on Wednesday, and sincerely thanked them for their service on the command staff," she said.

O'Toole, who became chief in June, took over the department as it works under a 2012 federal monitoring agreement to overhaul its rules governing the use of force and root out any bias from within its ranks.

She took over in the weeks before two highly publicized killings of unarmed black men by white officers in Missouri and New York City aroused nationwide concern about excessive force by police in minority communities.

The four assistant chiefs who will be leaving their posts are Robin Clark, Paul McDonagh, Tag Gleason and Mike Washburn. O'Toole said they had "served this community well for decades" and made enormous contributions to the department.

The spokesman said O'Toole had no further comment ahead of Wednesday's formal announcement.

The four will be demoted to the rank of captain unless any choose to retire, sources told The Seattle Times. Seattle's police union, the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, said it would not comment until after the Wednesday announcement.

A fifth assistant chief, Nick Metz, recently left to become police chief in Aurora, Colorado.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)