Interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel makes changes on first day

SEATTLE — Interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel officially took office Monday and didn’t waste any time making changes. His first order of business was to reorganize the command staff, giving him direct communication with the heads of each bureau.

“It is not a demotion or a promotion for anybody,” Pugel said.

The moves level out the ranks. Deputy Chief Nick Metz and Deputy Chief Clark Kimmerer become assistant chiefs along with Mike Sanford, Paul McDonagh and Dick Reed.

“That reflects much more with what large major police departments from around the nation are,” Pugel said. “There’s always a chief and then the second in command is assistant police chief.”

No one gets a pay raise or pay cut.

The organizational moves are part of his plan to create direct lines of communication as he works to implement changes directed by the Department of Justice settlement and Merrick Bob’s monitoring team. Pugel said that team is embedded and that early resistance by officers to the changes is now gone.

“We’ve been working with the monitoring team and the Department of Justice as well as our audit and professional responsibility section under Mike Sanford in crafting new Terry stop policy and procedure, stop and frisk policy procedure and biased policing,” Pugel said.

The Community Police Commission, stipulated by the DOJ settlement ,will have a strong say in what goes into the new policies on those so-called Terry stops, where police detain people briefly on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.  The goal is to make sure everyone is treated fairly.

With the mayor’s office up for grabs in this fall’s election, no decision will be made on a permanent replacement for the retiring Police Chief John Diaz until November at the earliest but Pugel says he’s focusing on the job at hand but also has the permanent chief’s position in his sights.

“’I think I can bring a new, not necessarily a better angle, but a new angle that will lead us in a positive direction that will support good, honest, ethical police work that will continue to make the city safer and hopefully reduce the harm that we come across on a daily basis,” Pugel said.

 

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