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caption: Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell announced Adrian Diaz as the new permanent Seattle Chief of Police during a press conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at Seattle City Hall. 
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Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell announced Adrian Diaz as the new permanent Seattle Chief of Police during a press conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at Seattle City Hall.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Adrian Diaz officially picked as Seattle Police Chief

Adrian Diaz will drop the “interim” from his police chief title and is slated to become next leader of the Seattle Police Department. Mayor Bruce Harrell made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

The Seattle City Council still has to vote to approve the hiring decision.

Diaz said Tuesday that his leadership of SPD is based in community and that he is committed to restoring safety citywide.

“I approach this work with optimism, mindful of the trust that was shattered by the events of 2020’s … murder of George Floyd; of the combined trauma of the community and our officers alike; and of the long path of reconciliation ahead of us. Not just between SPD and the community, but also between the city, the department, and the men and women, sworn and civilian, who form the heart and soul of SPD," Diaz said.

Chief Diaz said that beyond data and nuanced conversations about policing in Seattle, “we know Seattleites are demanding a safer city they deserve.”

“There is no question that the past two years have been difficult. Tears in the social fabric so necessary to support a healthy society have ripped wide open, as so many of the resources, available pre-pandemic, have been reduced. Staffing challenges amid rising calls for service puts enormous strain on our officers, making it critical that we invest in resources to keep our officers healthy and safe. At the same time, violent crime is at a 25-year high and disproportionality felt in communities of color. Therefore, we cannot be passive. Our city requires action on crime, on gun violence, on perceived and real issues of safety.”

Diaz added that reform work at SPD will not stop.

caption: Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that Adrian Diaz would become Seattle's next official police chief. Diaz was interim chief for two years before he was hired to the job. 
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Mayor Harrell said the city’s community-driven process produced three top candidates out of a field of 15, including Eric Greening who is currently with the Seattle Police Department, and Kevin Hall from Tucson. They were all great candidates, he said, adding that it made his job hard.

RELATED: All 3 finalists for Seattle police chief support more civilian crisis responders

Harrell said that while all three were "great candidates," Diaz had a “wow” factor.

“There are these intangibles, it’s what I call chemistry and it’s something you can’t teach, you can’t fake, but it’s right here,” Harrell said. “I think Chief Diaz has that, right here. A person who I have known since he was a sergeant, working in the community, a person who will make bold decisions, unpopular decisions, but the right thing to do.”

“I spent 12 years on the council, I spent four years as public safety chair, four years as vice chair, and then four years as city council president. I have worked with a lot of chiefs … as they say, ‘it’s not my first rodeo.’ And I want to thank all those former chiefs for their outstanding service and leadership. Fact of the matter is that not one chief in our history has completely eradicated racism, completely changed the culture. So I’m not asking this chief to do that. I’m asking this chief to be the strongest and most effective leader he can be to change the culture and optimize our performance.”

Diaz was appointed to the job in September 2020, shortly after former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best resigned from her role. Diaz remained on the job as Seattle switched over to a new mayor, Bruce Harrell, in 2022. In April, it was reported that Diaz was the only contender for the police chief role.

But Seattle's city code requires that an extensive search be conducted to fill the chief role. Three candidates were produced from that search: Diaz; Assistant Seattle Police Chief Eric Greening; and Kevin Hall, an assistant police chief in Tucson, Arizona.

As KUOW previously reported, all three candidates emphasized support of civilian crisis responders. Watch video of the three candidates addressing Seattle's policing issues here.

On Tuesday, Harrell said the city’s community-driven process produced three top candidates out of a field of 15.

Before his interim role, Diaz was a deputy chief within SPD. He has also worked undercover and as a bike patrol officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Central Washington University, and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.