Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O & # 39; Toole in the photo next to Mayor Jenny Durkan's swearing-in ceremony at the Ethiopian Community Center in Rainier Beach, Seattle, Tuesday, November 8 of 2017. Credit:
Matt M. McKnight / Crosscut
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O & Toole will leave her position as head of the state's largest police department at the end of the year, handing over the reins to Deputy Chief Carmen Best for occupy the post until the mayor Jenny Durkan chooses her successor.
Her departure ends three years as the first female police chief in Seattle and not surprising among those who worked closely with the department during that period.
Her marching order when she was hired in 2014 was to take the Seattle Police Department through court-ordered reforms. The City, the Department of Justice and the Community Police Commission are united in their belief that the obligations of that agreement have been met.
But United States District Court Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the reforms, has not yet given him his seal of approval. Except for any news next month, O & # 39; Toole will leave before seeing his work finished.
Replacing O & # 39; Toole will be Durkan's opportunity to show in what direction the new mayor wants to take over the police department and that she is committed to continuing the reforms that she has helped shape since her time as a US Attorney. .
O & # 39; Toole arrived in Seattle from Ireland, where he oversaw the reforms to the Irish Garda, the Irish National Police Service. Before that, she was the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department. O & # 39; Toole worked and learned with Bill Bratton in Boston, the famous police figure that drove the police style of "broken windows", a proactive form of law enforcement that has since deteriorated as a style that goes too far to communities of color.
In her time in Seattle, O & # 39; Toole received national recognition as a reformer, received praise from former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and an invitation to join First Lady Michelle Obama for the final speech of the State of the Union President Obama.
Among local elected officials, she was often praised for putting the department in shape. In one of her first moves as head, she changed a practice of more than three decades to promote the badistants of the bosses internally and reached an agreement with the Seattle Police Administration Association to avoid a complaint of unfair labor practices, hire two external heads and promote a third from the position of lieutenant.
He also fired agent Cynthia Whitlatch, who had arrested an African-American man walking with a golf club as a cane, accusing him of shaking him against her. After interim chief Harry Bailey committed several cases of misconduct, the dismissal was a refreshing change for frustrated activists and officials.
And under its supervision, the department implemented new crisis and de-escalation training requirements required under decree consent. According to external measurements, the changes have caused fewer incidents of force against people in crisis.
Things were not always easy: after the death of Charleena Lyles last summer, she was accused of not appearing in public forums. She was also criticized for giving little discipline to the police officer who pepper-sprayed a Garfield High School teacher in 2015.
In 2016, the City was ordered to pay a $ 2.8 million settlement after a judge of the Court Superior of King County will determine O & # 39; Toole retaliated against two senior police employees.
Generally speaking, the department as a whole still has problems with disproportionate police. A recent report from a monitor found that although the use of general force has declined, officers are still more likely to use force and point their weapons at African-American residents.
But although it was not without controversy, the department has received the ratings have constantly improved from its lowest point at the beginning of this decade. Instances of force, especially against people in crisis, have decreased significantly and surveys have shown that confidence in the department increases year after year.
Rumors of the departure of O & # 39; Toole have revolved since almost the day the former mayor badigned him the job. Ed Murray in 2014, as many looked east, to Boston, where he maintained close ties despite his move to Seattle. Those rumors reached a peak in recent months when O & # 39; Toole took a job as an advisor to the Irish National Police and seemed to disappear from most public events. Although he denied that work in Ireland was a replacement, he also left open the possibility that he would leave.
"It's the end of the administration," he told Crosscut in July, referring to the departure scheduled for January from then Mayor Ed Murray. "My contract coincides with the mayor's contract, so who really knows? … I never had expectations beyond the mandate of Mayor Murray."
Murray resigned last summer amid accusations of badual abuse.
After his election, Durkan expressed his desire to keep O & # 39; Toole. O & # 39; Toole extended the rumors: at the Durkan takeover last week, when asked if he would leave, O & # 39; Toole told Crosscut: "If I knew, I promise I would tell you now"  During the campaign, Durkan told Crosscut that if O & # 39; Toole left, he would launch a national search for a replacement, but he would not rule out hiring within the department.
At KUOW last week, former mayor Tim Burgess called the chief of police the Mayor's most important appointment.