New Seattle police chief: I’m ready for the challenge

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray swears in Kathleen O’Toole as the city’s first female police chief on Monday, June 23, 2014. (Photo: SPD)

SEATTLE — Kathleen O’Toole was sworn-in Monday as Seattle’s new police chief — the first woman to hold that position in the city.

“Again and again I have been asked whether I chose Kathleen O’Toole because she was a woman,” Mayor Ed Murray said during the ceremony at City Hall. “My response has been no, I chose her because she’s Irish.”

Actually, Murray said, he chose O’Toole because he was impressed with her leadership and experience in the Boston Police Department.

But she faces a number of challenges as she takes over in Seattle.

“We have to restore public trust, we have restore pride in the organization,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot of about some of the crime and disorder in the neighborhoods.”

She said one of her first priorities this week is to visit some of the neighborhoods where crime has been an issue. She wants to talk to the people who live and work there, as well as the officers who work those beats.

“I think it’s really important we look at each case and each neighborhood. I’ve committed to developing a policing plan for every neighborhood in the city — not just precinct, but every neighborhood.”

But getting officers on her side won’t be easy. Last month, more than 120 officers filed a lawsuit challenging new use-of-force policies as part of a federally monitored reform program.

“It saddens me that we have to get to a point that people litigate,” she said of the officers’ lawusit. “Certainly they have the right to do that. But I hope we can address these issues head-on and not resort to court cases in the future.”

O’Toole’s confirmation earlier Monday was not unanimous. City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, the lone dissenter in the 8-1 vote, questioned whether O’Toole could bring real change to the department.

“I have not seen sufficient evidence that she would be willing to challenge the status quo of the police and the political establishment,” Sawant said.

O’Toole said she hopes to prove all her doubters wrong.

She will be meeting with command staff Tuesday to begin the transition. She said she hasn’t decided who will be staying in the department or who she might want to bring in from outside. But she said she hopes to have her team in place within the next 30 to 60 days.

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3 comments

  • AnwarPeace

    A new website has been created for the public to track the “Real-Time-Progress” of the Seattle Police Department and the United States Justice Department court ordered Consent-Decree.

    PEACE Inc. (http://www.anwarpeace.wix.com/peace-inc) is a website dedicated to those people whose lives have been touched by Police Brutality and Police Abuse, and too honor those Lost-Souls who have been killed by Police Violence.

    PEACE Inc. Social-Justice-Think-Tank “Providing Seattle Strength Through Peace”

    May Peace Be With You,
    Anwar El Peace
    President and Founder of PEACE Inc.
    Visit http://www.anwarpeace.wix.com/peace-inc

  • AnwarPeace

    PEACE INC. Proposals for changing the Seattle Police Department:

    Random Drug & Psychology Testing for all S.P.D. Personal. Face it we all want our Airline Pilots, Doctors, and even Cable Guys to be “Drug-Free”, so why aren’t Seattle Police Officers working in a “Drug-Free-Workplace”. The only time a Seattle Officer gets tested is at hiring and/or if they shoot someone, I have found 6 other Police Departments across the country that have a drug testing program. One of those department is the Boston Police, which the Seattle Police Departments’ new Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole comes from Boston P.D. who started their drug testing program in 1999. As for the Psychology Testing, everyone needs to handle their “Workplace-Stress” in the right way and clearly Seattle Police Officers aren’t handling the stresses of job in a positive manner. It only makes sense to have the cops who patrol our streets be Mentally-Healthy, so they can protect us from the “Bad-Guys” and not turn into a “Bad-Guy” themselves. So at least once a year officers should be screened for Mental Illness and whether their stress levels are effecting them while on duty.

  • happy_pessimist

    Now waIt a minute Seattle you're slipping up. She should of been a black female or better yet a black gay female RIGHT?