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Mayor announces Acting Chief of Police

SEATTLE – Mayor Greg Nickels has announced that Deputy Chief John Diaz will serve as acting chief of police pending Chief Gil Kerlikowske’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Diaz will also serve as interim chief upon Kerlikowske’s resignation from the Seattle Police Department.

“John’s outstanding reputation and deep knowledge of the department make him an obvious choice,” said Nickels. “As a Spanish-speaker and former East Precinct commander, John knows the importance of public safety to our neighborhoods. He is the right person at the right time, and I appreciate his willingness to serve as acting chief of police.”

A San Francisco native, Diaz joined the Seattle Police Department as a night patrol officer in 1980 and worked in the South Precinct. He was later commander of the gang section and the violent crimes section. He worked in the East Precinct as a sergeant, lieutenant and captain, and from 1995 to 2000, he served as the East Precinct commander, overseeing approximately 160 patrol officers and fostering a close relationship with one of the city’s most diverse communities.

“I look forward to leading the department in this time of transition,” said Diaz. “The men and women of the Seattle Police Department are the best in the nation, and we will build on our traditions of professionalism, innovation and compassion.”

Diaz has served as deputy chief since 2001 and for the last three years, has overseen the Operations Bureau, one of the Seattle Police Department’s two main bureaus. He is directly responsible for the following sections: Special Operations Bureau; Patrol Operations Bureau, which includes crime analysis and all five precincts; and the Criminal Investigations Bureau, which includes violent crimes, special victims crimes, narcotics, Internet crimes against children, and human trafficking.

“Over the last decade I have worked with John Diaz on various issues and projects affecting both of our law enforcement agencies. He is knowledgeable, professional, and focuses on working cooperatively to solve problems,” said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr.

“In his many years of dedicated service to the people of Seattle, John Diaz has demonstrated he is capable of exercising strong leadership within the Seattle Police Department, while also enjoying an impeccable reputation for his personal integrity. In my judgment, he is an outstanding choice to lead SPD,” said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Bruce Hilyer.

“The Seattle Police Department has a longstanding partnership with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and other law enforcement agencies, which have both benefited from this partnership. We have great admiration and respect for Chief Kerlikowske’s leadership and look forward to a continued working relationship with Interim
Chief John Diaz and the department,” said Tom Corzine, deputy director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

The Seattle City Charter states that the chief of police shall be appointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. Nickels said there will be a public process to select the best candidate.

“We will listen to many voices, and conduct an open search,” Nickels said. “This will be a time for the community to tell us how to make a safe city even safer. There is no time line for a decision. We will be deliberative. And we will get it right.”