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City of Seattle

September 15, 1:08 PM click here to comment > 0

Diaz reorganizes command structure

John Diaz yesterday called in his top 50 commanders to unveil his vision, goal and priorities, including a new emphasis on community building and training techniques in the Seattle Police Department. Nine high-level commanders are now taking on new roles to implement the chief’s priorities of: (1) Fighting Crime, (2) Reducing Fear and (3) Building Community.

Mayor Mike McGinn and Chief Diaz today briefed the press on these changes and provided updates on the investigation into the fatal shooting of John T. Williams by a Seattle police officer.

Reorganization of command structure

One of the most important strategies for Chief Diaz in putting his personal stamp on his new administration is to place key personnel in critical positions. Community building will be integrated at the highest staff level into all day-to-day operations of the department to advance community policing principles.

Nick Metz was promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief of Operations & Community Relations. He will oversee the Patrol Bureau, Investigations Bureau and the Special Operations Bureau. As part of his role as Commander of Operations, Chief Diaz has tasked Deputy Chief Metz with the responsibility of overseeing and coordinating all aspects of community outreach throughout the Department. Deputy Chief Metz will oversee such programs as the Demographic Advisory Councils, Race and Social Justice Initiatives and external communication. Over 75 percent of department employees work within Operations. This means that building community will involve every aspect of each section, unit and task force under Deputy Chief Metz’ command. Every employee of SPD will have responsibility in helping to build community.

Captain Ron Wilson will assume command of the Department’s Community Outreach Section and report directly to Deputy Chief Metz. As the current Commander of the Metropolitan Section, Captain Wilson brings with him a wealth of experience. Prior to his promotion to Captain just a few short months ago, he was instrumental in representing the Department with local, state and federal agencies, as well an array of community members, in creating mechanisms for gang / youth violence prevention and outreach. In his new role within the Community Outreach Section, Captain Wilson will work closely with Chief Metz in creating a variety of avenues to reach out and build community.

Captain Wilson will oversee all the community outreach efforts, up to and including the Demographic Advisory Councils, Special Projects, Crime Analysis, Crisis Communication (Internal and External), Neighborhood Viewpoint and Youth Violence Initiative, to name a few. He will also be responsible for coordinating training for the Department’s Community Police Teams and the Crime Prevention Coordinators who are often on the front lines of working to build relationships with the community. He will also look at how the Department can better train its first responders in building partnerships with businesses and residents within their districts.

Paul McDonagh was promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief of Special Operations and will report to Deputy Chief Metz. Previously assigned as the East Precinct Commander, Chief McDonagh was selected to fill the vacated Assistant Chief’s position for the last several months. In his new role, Chief McDonagh will oversee the day to day operations of the Traffic Section, Parking Enforcement, Homeland Security, the Intelligence Section and the Metropolitan Section (SWAT, Canine, Mounted, Crisis Intervention, and Harbor Patrol). Chief McDonagh works closely with local, state and federal agencies in developing comprehensive Homeland Security plans and partnerships. Chief McDonagh will soon assume the role as the command liaison to the Native American Advisory Council.

Steve Paulsen was promoted to the rank of Captain and will assume command of the Southwest Precinct. Prior to his promotion, Captain Paulsen was assigned to both the Southwest and West Precincts as both a Watch Commander and a Precinct Operations Commander, overseeing the Community Police Team and Anti Crime Team.

Captain Joe Kessler will soon assume command of the Department’s West Precinct. For the last three years, Captain Kessler has commanded the Southwest Precinct. During his tenure, he has forged strong relationships with the community he serves and has challenged his officers to do the same. His innovative approaches to building community and fighting crime have prepared him well for assuming the most challenging and complex precinct. As a resident within the West Precinct boundaries, Captain Kessler understands the needs of the community and will continue the excellent service provided by his predecessor.

Captain Neil Low will soon assume command of the Metropolitan Section (SWAT, Canine, Mounted, Crisis Intervention, and Harbor Patrol). A forty year veteran of SPD, Captain Low has worked such assignments as Commander of the Office of Professional Accountability, Violent Crimes Section, and most recently the Training Section.

Captain Dick Belshay will soon assume command of the Department’s Traffic Section. For the last two years, Captain Belshay has overseen the Department’s Homeland Security Section where he worked with local, state and federal agencies to ensure that the Department is well prepared to respond to major emergencies and disasters. This will be Captain Belshay’s second tour of duty within the Traffic Section. Captain Belshay, along with Captain Steve Brown, are huge supporters of Special Olympics and recently coordinated a large fundraising event in Ellensburg for this very important charity.

Captain Mike Fann will soon assume command of the Department’s Homeland Security Section. As the current Commander of the Department’s Traffic Section, Captain Fann has made traffic safety his number one priority. Working closely with SDOT, WSDOT, and various community organizations on traffic related issues such as enforcement, street design and special events, Captain Fann has helped place the Traffic Section in the enviable position as a national model.

Comprehensive review and revision of training

As a result of recent high profile events, it is imperative that the Department take on the arduous task of auditing its current training practices and determine those new training strategies that will soon be implemented. Chief Diaz has mandated that every officer receive the best training possible.

As part of the reorganization, Chief Diaz has chosen Captain Steve Brown to assume command of the Department’s Training Section and start this effort. For the last five years, Captain Brown has commanded the West Precinct (Downtown, SODO, International District, Queen Anne and Magnolia). As the West Precinct Commander, Captain Brown formed important relationships with businesses, residents and service providers. As a boots-to-the-ground kind of commander, Captain Brown understands the importance of ensuring a strong and comprehensive training program and appreciates Chief Diaz’ priorities of assessing and providing the best training available to our employees. Captain Brown will ensure that mandate is carried out.

The police department anticipates that the review of training techniques will be completed no later than January 1, 2011.

SPD is also implementing new training to enhance the department’s effectiveness in supporting public safety in Seattle. The department is expanding the number of officers who are trained in Crisis Intervention Training in order to better train first line responders who encounter individuals suffering from mental illness and other crisis situations. 53 officers have already attended a Verbal Judo training class. Over 700 employees have attended Perspectives in Profiling, a training class to support the city of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. SPD remains one of the few agencies that mandate annual in-service training for all sworn employees – Street Skills. Additional efforts are included HERE.

Update on investigation into the officer-involved fatal shooting of John T. Williams and independent review process

The investigation by the SPD Homicide Section is near conclusion, and includes the transcribed testimony of over 16 witnesses, extensive physical evidence – including video and audio recordings – and incident diagrams and scene recreations. When completed, it will be submitted to the members of the Firearms Review Board, and King County Prosecutor for their review, which may include follow-up questions and direction for further investigation from either the King County Prosecutor, members of the Firearms Review Board, or both. Details of the investigation will not be disclosed prior to the King County Inquest. The investigation will be completed before the Firearms Review Board convenes.

The police department is prepared to submit the complete and unedited investigation to two comparable police agencies to undertake a peer review. The criteria for the request to these peer agencies is that they are comparable in size or larger than the Seattle Police Department, and recognized on a national level for their major crime investigation thoroughness and credibility. The scope of this review will be to examine every facet of the department’s investigation and determine if there are any gaps, omissions, inconsistencies or investigative requirements that were unmet. This peer review will be completed prior to the Inquest.

Click HERE for a detailed review of the investigation process.

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Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson