I'm at the city council's action-packed Public Safety and Education Committee meeting this morning, where Seattle's three finalists for police chief—current Interim Chief Diaz, Sacramento Chief Braziel, and East Palo Alto Chief Davis—are being trotted out like blushing debutantes.
Right now, city council members are questioning Chief Braziel. It is confirmed: He is dreamy. He's eloquent, he's concise, he's relaxed, he's funny, and he's answering everything right. Also, he looks like mother-fucking Clark Kent.
A few highlights so far:
His first priority as Seattle's Police Chief: "Getting out into the community, holding forums, go to community meetings, meeting elected and appointed officials, sitting down with employees," he says, and asking everyone "What do we do well? How can we do it better? How do we accomplish that?" He'd also expand community policing, so that officers "talk with people, not at people."
Where he stands on use of force: "Every use of force should be documented. There’s always something to learn from a use of force—good or bad." In his department, every policy is a learning tool that gets reviewed every other year to make sure it's effective. "We keep it if it's working, update it if need be, or get rid of it. Right now, I'm deleting policies."
Public perception of crime downtown and whether or not foot patrols help: "We went back to a mix of bike and foot patrols in our core downtown area. Foot patrols give better community access and bike provide a quicker response. It’s the right mix." When asked whether or not that's an affordable option for Seattle given looming budget cuts, Braziel says that in Sacramento, currently, "We’re 40 percent below where we need to be, I’m not cutting bike or foot patrols. They work."
How Braziel addresses youth violence: He started a youth advisory committee. "We weren’t listening to the youth," he says, and now they every other month.
Braziel also spoke about giving community real-time access to crime information, retraining officers on how to handle traffic stops, "if we're doing our job right, every stop should end with a thank-you" from the person being stopped, and encouraging department fitness, "by creating a culture of fitness... we've reduced worker's compensation claims by three million dollars."
And Braziel just ran out of time. Davis is now up. More to come...