May 29, 2024 - News

Adrian Diaz no longer chief in shake-up at Seattle PD

A man with glasses wearing a police uniform speaks at a podium.

Adrian Diaz was appointed interim chief of the Seattle Police Department in August 2020 after Carmen Best resigned. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

After four tumultuous years, Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz is moving to a new role within the department, Mayor Bruce Harrell said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The shake-up at the beleaguered department follows a crescendo of external criticism, internal conflict and lawsuits filed against the city, the Seattle Police Department and, in some instances, Diaz specifically.

Driving the news: Harrell said at a news conference Wednesday Diaz suggested the needs of the city and the department would be "better served by him stepping aside," but the Seattle Times reports Diaz was "removed."

  • Harrell said Diaz will remain with the department, working on as-yet-undefined special assignments.

What they're saying: Harrell called Diaz "a good human being" and said his commitment to the force and his 27 years of experience bring "incredible value to this city."

  • Diaz choked up at the press conference, thanking the "men and women of the police department for their hard work and the community that has supported us through every challenge."

Former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr will step in temporarily while the city conducts a national search for a new chief, per Harrell.

  • Rahr retired as executive director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, served on the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and has expertise on police culture and the national effort to recruit more women to law enforcement.
  • Rahr said Wednesday she wants SPD to be "the most attractive police department" in the country for female officers.

What happened: Diaz took over as interim chief in 2020 and the mayor appointed him permanently two years later.

Harrell told KOMO News earlier this month he hired an independent investigator to review the suits' allegations and take a "deep dive on the institutional problems we're having within the department."

Between the lines: Diaz inherited a department under federal oversight since a 2011 investigation found a pattern of excessive force.

  • The department has lost over 700 officers over the last five years and is battling the lowest staffing level in about three decades.
  • A report last year for the department — designed to assess its culture — described female employees facing "a persistent 'good old boys club' that blocked others from opportunity," according to the Seattle Times.

What's next: Harrell said the search for a new chief begins next week with Rahr and former SPD Chief Kathleen O'Toole working on a list of candidates.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Seattle.

More Seattle stories