Yesterday, Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel abruptly withdrew from the Seattle chief selection process, saying that Seattle needed to be a good fit in order for him to leave California. Uh, okay. He had been in a selection process Seattle's chief position since February—and then, after interviews with a 27-member selection committee, winning the endorsement of the police officer's guild Monday, becoming a local favorite among politicians, and had subjecting himself to days of interviews last week—he decides that, nope, he never wanted to leave Sacramento.
“I have always been clear and candid that even though I was exploring this opportunity in Seattle, I was unsure if I would be willing to leave Sacramento," Braziel said at a press conference held yesterday. "Not only would Seattle have to feel that I was the right choice, but I would have to feel that Seattle was a good fit for me."
The Sacramento Bee also ran a piece stating that the city manager (who works closely with the police chief—much like our city's mayor) was "ecstatic" and Chief Braziel would receive an eight percent pay increase for his loyalty. Braziel says his decision to stay was not about the money.
But if you don't believe that Braziel had always wanted to stay in Sacramento—which is essentially what he's saying now—then questions abound. Did he catch wind that the mayor wasn't going to pick him, as Council Member Tim Burgess implies? Or that the debate about this stance on immigration (a statement that illegal immigration is stopped first at the border, a throw away explanation about why his police don't question immigration status) was heating up? That he'd be upstaged by Seattle's limelight-hogging politicians? Or that, perhaps, he just didn't like our city's politicians?
The rumors are flying like bullets. We don't know why he left.
But we do know that the mayor is left with two polarizing candidates with radically different command styles: East Palo Alto Chief Ron Davis, a charismatic leader with a track record of reducing crime and violence in East Palo Alto; and Seattle's Interim Chief Diaz, a no-bullshit leader with 30 years experience working his way up SPD's ranks.
And here's what I think: Diaz is qualified but he just oversaw one of the most plainly exposed failures of accountability in the police department's recent history. Davis, meanwhile, may run a small department—only 39 sworn officers compared to Seattle's 1,350 officers—which, according to the police officer's guild, makes him unqualified for Seattle's chief position. But I doubt this argument holds much sway with the mayor; after all, people similarly criticized McGinn's lack of experience before he took office.