Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that he will appoint interim Chief Adrian Diaz as the next permanent Chief of the Seattle Police Department, following an extensive national search and robust community engagement.
“Throughout this process, we’ve heard Seattleites’ clear expectations for the Seattle Police Department: effective public safety, meaningful community engagement, and a commitment to accountability and continuous improvement. I am confident that Chief Adrian Diaz will provide the leadership necessary to advance these critical priorities and make Seattle safe for all residents,” said Mayor Harrell. “We looked for candidates across the department and across the nation, elevated the voices of the community, and closely examined applicants’ qualifications and skills. Chief Diaz was the clear choice to respond to concerns about crime and safety and to drive the effective response that will make a real impact.”
“My commitment to lead the Seattle Police Department is based in community. I am committed to ensuring that community is at the forefront of all SPD’s work and engagement, and I am committed to ensuring the department restores safety city-wide,” said Chief Adrian Diaz. “I approach this work with optimism, mindful of the trust that was shattered by the events of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, of the combined trauma of community and our officers alike, and of the long path towards reconciliation ahead of us – not just between SPD and community members, but also between the city, the department, and the men and women, sworn and civilian, who form the heart and soul of the SPD. I remain 100% committed to this department, the City of Seattle, and I look forward to working on behalf of all people as Chief of Police.”
The search for Seattle’s next chief began in April and included the formation of a diverse search committee made up of a wide array of stakeholders and community members. Throughout the summer, the City held numerous community engagement sessions, listening to and receiving input from the public, in addition to opening a survey for people to submit safety priorities and share their opinions. The search committee elevated five candidates, who were administered a competitive exam by public safety experts. The three final candidates were unanimously advanced to Mayor Harrell. Last week, Mayor Harrell and City stakeholders interviewed the final candidates after they participated in a public question-and-answer forum.
Chief Diaz is a leader committed to building relationships with all people served by SPD, which is why he created the department’s Before the Badge training program. Before SPD’s new recruits attend the state’s mandatory Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training, they first attend Before the Badge for community-based, peer-based, and introspective experiences that provide them a more comprehensive understanding of the people they will eventually swear to serve and protect. Chief Diaz also created the Equity, Accountability, and Quality (EAQ) Risk Management model which allowed SPD to become the first police agency in the country to develop and test a data-driven model of identifying and addressing disparities in enforcement.
As the newly named Interim Chief during the summer of 2020, Diaz also reworked SPD’s crowd management policies and procedures to include a public order engagement team, reducing the need for the use of crowd control tools. The Chief oversaw a reduction in the use of force by 48% in 2021 compared to 2015, led the creation of a Risk Mitigation Assessment Matrix for development of diversified responses to policing, and oversaw critical incident responses to gun violence with local non-profit organizations to reduce retaliatory gun violence. Chief Diaz is respected by law enforcement leaders world-wide and serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He is Vice Chair for the IACP’s Human and Civil Rights Committee, is a member of the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, serves on the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF), and is a member of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Committee.
“Chief Diaz embraces our One Seattle vision and will be an instrumental partner as we move to the next phase of reform, ensure accountability, and drive innovative efforts to develop diversified emergency responses,” said Mayor Harrell. “Chief Diaz understands that our department must continue striving for excellence, reject bias and complacency, and act on the needs of our communities. He recognizes how hard our officers have been working and will use his professional and lived experience to create an inclusive, forward-looking culture at SPD. As permanent chief, he will bring new energy and innovation to delivering public safety services, supporting victims and survivors, and recruiting and retaining officers. I look forward to years of collaboration.”
Chief Diaz will begin a neighborhood tour to build on and expand his strong and longstanding community ties. Chief Diaz’s confirmation as permanent chief of police requires City Council confirmation.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Kathleen O'Toole, Former Seattle Chief of Police
“Sincere congratulations to Chief Diaz as he continues to lead the Seattle Police Department through these very challenging times. His long-recognized commitment to communities throughout the city will serve as a great foundation for his work going forward.”
Dr. Brent Jones, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent
“Chief Diaz is the leader our schools need. He has led the Seattle Police Department in supporting our schools, not just to ensure safety but also to foster community. Chief Diaz is the leader in public safety our students need. In many years of partnership with the school district, he has led with character, empathy, and justice.”
Rachel Smith, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President & CEO “This comprehensive search process included a competitive mix of local and national candidates, and it was an honor to serve alongside such outstanding partners on the search committee. Throughout the process, Interim Chief Adrian Diaz demonstrated his commitment to community, his willingness to address challenges, and his readiness to serve – along with a strong foundation of trust with Mayor Bruce Harrell – all qualities that will be critical as Seattle’s permanent police chief.”
Reverend Harriett Walden, Mothers for Police Accountability Founder
"Chief Diaz became the interim chief at a very difficult time for Seattle. He took this opportunity and has worked very hard to keep Seattle safe, while being faced with the loss of so many officers and increases in crime. Mothers for Police Accountability will work with Chief Diaz to further public safety and police accountability in Seattle, and I hope that that the accountability partners - the CPC, the OIG, and OPA - will as well."
Carmen Martinez, Duwamish Valley Youth Corps Manager
“I want to thank Mayor Harrell for elevating community and youth voices throughout this process and congratulate Chief Diaz on this well-deserved appointment. Residents were clear that we need Seattle Police Department leadership that listens, that cares, and that is committed to rebuilding trust with our community. Chief Diaz is that candidate and I look forward to closer partnerships and true collaboration with his permanent appointment.”
ABOUT CHIEF ADRIAN DIAZ
Chief Adrian Diaz has been a dedicated member of the Seattle Police Department for more than two decades. His work building relationships that bridge race, ethnicity, and every flavor of humanity can be seen across the Department and in every neighborhood in Seattle.
Chief Diaz began his career in Patrol, the Mountain Bike Unit, and the Anti-Crime Team before joining the Investigations Bureau. He is also a Master Defensive Tactics instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. He served as Assistant Chief of the newly created Collaborative Policing Bureau prior to being promoted to the Deputy Chief and Interim Chief of Police.
Chief Diaz holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Central Washington University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington. He has completed the FBI’s National Executive Institute, Major Cities Chiefs Associations Police Executive Leadership Institute, the Cascade Executive Program, and the Senior Management Institute of Policing. Chief Diaz has authored numerous articles in national publications about community policing, misdemeanor justice, and juvenile justice.