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Chief O’Toole Announces New SPD Leadership Team

I am pleased to announce the next generation of leaders in the Seattle Police Department.

I am pleased to announce the newest members of the Seattle Police Department command staff.

Assistant Chiefs Lesley Cordner, Steve Wilske, Robert Merner, Perry Tarrant, and Chief Information Officer Greg Russell will join me in leading this department. They have each proven themselves to be innovators, who share my drive for progress and passion for public service.


Asst. Chief Lesley Cordner

Lesley Cordner joined the Seattle Police Department in 1989, and has served in the Domestic Violence Unit, North Precinct Operations, Community Policing, and a number of other assignments. Lesley emigrated from Ireland to the greater Seattle area, and previously worked for the Boeing Company and Seattle City Light as a mechanical engineer before joining the department.

Steve Wilske, currently the commander of the Southwest Precinct, has served for more than 28 years with the department in a variety of roles, including Homicide and Crime Scene and Use of Force investigation. At Southwest, Steve brought his CSI background to bear, as he pushed the importance of scouring every single crime scene for fingerprints.


Asst. Chief Steve Wilske

I was looking for a commander who could plunge right into leading the patrol operations section, so it seems fitting that Steve has a degree in commercial diving.

Two chiefs are also joining our department after life-long careers in public safety service in other parts of the country.


Asst. Chief Robert Merner

Robert Merner, comes to us after holding every rank in the Boston Police Department’s Investigative Bureau, with experience in homicide, gangs, narcotics and forensics.

Robert has worked closely with a Boston Bar Association Taskforce dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions, and is a four-time recipient of the Boston Police Department’s Medal of Honor.

Perry Tarrant joins us after serving as the coordinator of the City of Yakima’s Gang Free Initiative.


Asst. Chief Perry Tarrant

Perry has served for 34 years as an officer and commander in the Tucson Police Department, and he is also the Vice President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

The search process for this leadership team was thorough and rigorous, with 72 external and 22 internal candidates, each deeply committed to public safety service.


CIO Greg Russell

We have also added another new position to our leadership team, Chief Information Officer. Greg Russell will lead the next phases of a number of tech-focused projects, like our body worn camera pilot and use of data to better predict and prevent crime.

Previously, Greg worked at Amazon as a vice president overseeing the company’s corporate applications, enterprise data warehouse and IT.

Assistant Chiefs Merner, Wilske, and Tarrant will report to Deputy Chief Carmen Best. Assistant Chief Lesley Cordner and CIO Russell will report to Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers.

In addition to today’s changes, our department will continue to prepare for our future, collaborating with the Seattle Police Management Association and Seattle Police Officers Guild to establish a leadership development program.

Together, we will continue to build on the foundation we have laid over the last eight months, restoring public trust, enhancing pride and professionalism in the department, promoting best business practices, and addressing crime and quality of life in our city.