From Left to Right: Deputy Chief Carmen Best, Chief Kathleen OToole, Mayor Jenny Durkan
Front row, from Left to Right: Deputy Chief Carmen Best, Chief Kathleen O'Toole, Mayor Jenny Durkan SH

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday morning announced four co-chairs who will lead a committee to find a replacement for Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Chief O’Toole plans to step down on December 31, an announcement that came in a press release this morning. Deputy chief Carmen Best will serve as interim chief until the city selects a permanent replacement.

During a press conference at City Hall, Durkan said that the search for a new chief will begin in January and that she hopes to make a final decision by Spring of 2018.

The four co-chairs heading the police chief search committee will include:

  • Jeff Robinson, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice.
  • Tim Burgess, former cop, city council member, and interim mayor.
  • Colleen Echohawk, executive director of Seattle Chief Club.
  • Sue Rahr, former King County Sheriff and current executive director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

The mayor said she hopes to finalize the other members of the search committee within two weeks.

Appearing publicly for the first time since news of her imminent departure, Chief O'Toole said, "This has been a very difficult decision, difficult because I love this city, difficult because I care deeply about the Seattle Police Department, and more than anything, I love being a cop."

The police chief told reporters that she had been considering stepping down for several months and decided to leave her post before Durkan announced her run for mayor. O'Toole said her part-time consulting work with Irish Police did not factor into her decision. "Personally and professionally, I felt it was the right time," she said.

According to Durkan, the search process to replace O'Toole will begin early next year with four community meetings (dates and locations to be determined), where the public will be invited to voice what they'd like to see in a new chief. The application process would open after that round of meetings.

When asked whether she would consider applying for the role, Deputy Chief Best said, "Absolutely."