Harrell Picks Diaz for Police Chief; Council Park District Alternative Would Keep Park Rangers, Raise Tax

Mayor Bruce Harrell, Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, and supporters
Mayor Bruce Harrell, Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, and supporters at Tuesday’s announcement

1. After a City Charter-mandated process that led to a list of three finalists, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Tuesday that interim police chief Adrian Diaz will become Seattle’s permanent police chief, pending confirmation by the City Council.

Diaz expressed his desire to become permanent chief as early as 2020, when he replaced former chief Carmen Best, and was widely viewed as the most obvious choice for the position. Harrell’s office announced the finalists for the position less than two weeks ago, and the public had its first look at all three finalists in a live Seattle Channel interview five days before the mayor announced his selection.

The compressed recent timeline, combined with Harrell’s choice of the most widely predicted candidate, gave the chief selection the air of a fait accompli, prompting questions Tuesday about whether the city r revisit how it picks police chiefs in the future. Harrell defended the process, calling it “an extremely effective and efficient use of dollars” that involved “all communities in the city. “There was nothing broken in this process. The process was a good process. And so nothing out of this process suggested to me [that] we needed to fix or change anything,” Harrell said.

The police department currently has fewer than 1,000 officers on duty, a number Diaz and the mayor have said they want to increase to more than 1,400 over the next five years. Diaz said the public is demanding “action on crime, on gun violence, on perceived and real issues of safety,” and vowed to continue efforts to hire hundreds of new officers while committing to accountability, diversity, and new types of policing, including co-responder models, in which police partner with social service workers when responding to some crisis and non-emergency calls.

This approach, like the choice of Diaz itself, represents a commitment to the status quo: Reform, not a radical rethinking of the relationship between police and the communities they serve. Aggressive hiring, rather than redistributing some duties to non-police responders. More and better officer training, rather than example-setting discipline for cops who abuse their power. Even Diaz’s characterization of the 2020 protests outside the East Precinct, which he repeatedly referred to as “riots” both yesterday and during his Seattle Channel interview, represents a pre-2020 perspective in which police are the only bulwark against everything from violent crime to people protesting against police violence.

2. On Tuesday City Council member Andrew Lewis presented his budget proposal for the upcoming six-year Metropolitan Parks District plan, which PubliCola previewed earlier this week. Lewis’ proposal amends and expands on the plan Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed earlier this month, increasing the proposed property tax to 39 cents per $1,000 of home valuation (up from Harrell’s 38 cents/$1,000), adding two new off-leash areas, funding the electrification of additional community centers, planting more trees, and renovating four more restrooms than Harrell’s plan, among other changes.

Climate advocates have argued that the city needs to invest more heavily in decarbonizing the city’s 26 community centers. Lewis’ proposal would add $4 million in 2025 and 2026 to accelerate this process, along with $18 million in debt, which the city would begin paying off near the end of the park district cycle, in 2027, with a goal of decarbonizing 13 community centers by 2028.

The plan would also fund $5 million for additional maintenance at the planned downtown waterfront park, which would come out of the existing park stabilization fund and reserves.

Lewis noted Monday that his proposal also includes spending restriction meant to ensure that parks rangers can’t remove encampments or exclude people from parks for anything other than felony-level crimes. As we reported on Monday, although a 1997 law empowers parks rangers to exclude people from parks for violating park rules, a more lenient policy adopted in 2012 has effectively superseded that law. Lewis’ proposal would make funding for 26 new rangers contingent on following the 2012 rule, and would require the mayor to “immediately inform the Park District should these park rules be modified.”

Two public commenters were extremely upset about nudity they’d witnessed at Denny Blaine Park, an unofficial nude beach on Lake Washington, and said they hoped the new park rangers would put a stop to it and, as one speaker put it, make the park a “family friendly place again.” One outraged speaker, who seemed to be a frequent visitor, said she had witnessed people “walking down Lake Washington Boulevard naked, in the middle of Denny Blaine Park, naked, in trees, naked, displaying themselves, naked, on the low walls in the park, [and] naked people swimming, paddle boarding, laying on rafts, etc.”

The parks district board, which is made up of all nine members of the city council, will meet this Friday, and the council itself could vote on a final proposal as soon as Monday, September 27.

6 thoughts on “Harrell Picks Diaz for Police Chief; Council Park District Alternative Would Keep Park Rangers, Raise Tax”

  1. Feisty Brain, I assure you that two pro-cop individuals are not at all representative of the community as a whole. BLM and ACAB are still the predominant viewpoints, and Diaz wins no points there.

  2. Where is the Lake City Community Center capital budget? Which dog parks are planned/funded? Is that 3 total or 5 total? Notice that Little Brook Park’s Latina families only got half of the $2M they requested for a play area and spray feature, while Rainier Beach for $2M for a skate park. Isn’t Lake City’s very poor, immigrant community still being underrepresented?

  3. Not excited about the choice of Diaz for police chief. How is it reasonable at all to choose someone who has for nearly 2 years demonstrated that he cannot ensure public safety and civility? Very disappointed.

    As for the parks: no, no, no, no more taxes. These folks need to learn to live within our means, not blithely continue to pass taxes that beggar many of us.

    1. How is Diaz supposed to “ensure public safety and civility” when he is down more than 350 officers thanks to the idiotic actions and language coming out of the Seattle City Council? The department is not even able to respond to emergencies in a reasonable time right now. Diaz has been able to stem the resignations, and has earned trust across important communities, ranging from the business community to BIPOC.

      1. Funny, I know many of the movers and shakers in the local BlPOC community, and none of them have ever mentioned having trust in Diaz.

      2. A Joy, you just aren’t paying attention.

        “”Quynh Pham, executive director of Friends of Little Saigon, said she built a relationship with Diaz during concerted police crackdowns downtown and at 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in Little Saigon earlier this year. “He’s been pretty attentive to our needs and concerns and very accessible to the community,” said Pham.”

        “Sean Goode, executive director of the youth diversion nonprofit Choose 180, said he’s seen Diaz serve the community faithfully for more than two decades, and said he is excited about what the appointment means for Diaz, his family and the broader community. “I believe Adrian has demonstrated historically an investment in alternatives to policing and has always been open and willing to engage in honest dialogue about the impact SPD has had on those disproportionately contacted and negatively impacted by policing.”

        “Chief Diaz became the interim chief at a very difficult time for Seattle. He took this opportunity and has worked very hard to keep Seattle safe, while being faced with the loss of so many officers and increases in crime. Mothers for Police Accountability will work with Chief Diaz to further public safety and police accountability in Seattle, and I hope that that the accountability partners – the CPC, the OIG, and OPA – will as well”, Reverend Harriett Walden, Mothers for Police Accountability Founder.

        “I want to thank Mayor Harrell for elevating community and youth voices throughout this process and congratulate Chief Diaz on this well-deserved appointment. Residents were clear that we need Seattle Police Department leadership that listens, that cares, and that is committed to rebuilding trust with our community. Chief Diaz is that candidate and I look forward to closer partnerships and true collaboration with his permanent appointment,” Carmen Martinez, Duwamish Valley Youth Corps Manager

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