Police chief nominee tells City Council: Some officers ‘demoralized at this point’

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Seattle Police Chief-nominee Kathleen O’Toole answers questions from the City Council at her first confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — During a Seattle City Council confirmation hearing, Seattle Police Chief-nominee Kathleen O’Toole said she has many objectives if hired, one being restoring pride within the department.

“Unfortunately, there will always be a share of bad apples, but I met some wonderful people who are demoralized at this point but looking for leadership and light at the end of the tunnel,” said O’Toole. “It’s a matter of earning trust and I hopefully will be able to do that sooner than later.”

Council members asked a series of questions about how O’Toole will tackle fighting crime.

“People feel unsafe at night. There are open drug markets happening in some of our most important parks. How can we work with you to make the changes to get this done?” asked City Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw.

O’Toole promised to have a close relationship with neighborhood and business leaders to reduce violence downtown.

“This city has a phenomenal reputation and we don’t want that type of activity downtown to undermine that reputation for the business community and those living there,” said O’Toole.

O’Toole added that she wants to run a straightforward and more transparent department, aiming to comply with a federal consent decree after an investigation found officers used excessive force too often.

“She has broad experience at the state level, municipal level, with the Department of Justice. She is a strong leader and knows how to manage and run an organization. She is going to be a very effective change agent for our police department,” said Councilman Tim Burgess.

There is another confirmation hearing scheduled for June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the New Holly Community Center at 7054 32nd Ave South in Seattle. The City Council will vote on June 12,with an official confirmation planned for June 23.



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