You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Monday, May 19, 2014

Statement by U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan on Nomination of New Seattle Police Chief

The Department of Justice congratulates nominee Kathleen O’Toole.  Commissioner O’Toole has a reputation for strong, effective and community based policing.  She has experience running a large police department and also has recently worked with a police department operating under a consent decree with the DOJ.

If confirmed, Commissioner O’Toole will inherit a police department that has dedicated officers and civilian staff, but is undergoing profound change.  In recent months, the Seattle Police Department has adopted new policies that touch every important part of policing:  data collection, use of force, stops and detentions, crisis intervention and bias policing.  SPD is now actively training staff and officers on these policies, which are built to serve communities throughout Seattle.  The sheer logistics and effort to implement these changes cannot be overstated: virtually every officer will undergo intensive training in the coming months.  Entire new data and computer systems must come on-line.  Progress is being made every day but there is still work to be done.

We applaud Commissioner O’Toole’s pledge to continue this work.  Her commitment to the men and women working at SPD is equally important.  We have great respect for SPD officers and are confident they will continue to address issues raised in the DOJ investigation.   On May Day they showed that even as the organization was being remade, they could implement strong and effective policing strategies.

SPD and City leadership understands and has demonstrated that constitutional policing and public safety go hand in hand.  Public confidence and community trust are key elements that ensure officers have the tools necessary to solve crime and protect the community.
2014 is a pivotal year for SPD.  Conducting and finishing training, beefing up supervision and collecting more data will require great effort.  But they are essential to be able to more quickly and transparently monitor progress towards better policing and increasing public safety.
The Department of Justice looks forward to working with Commissioner O’Toole and the City of Seattle in building a police department that is a natural leader in urban policy.

Updated March 20, 2015