News Column

Seattle Police Chief Diaz Retiring in May

April 8, 2013

Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said Monday he would retire next month after three tumultuous years in the position.

Diaz, 55, ran the department under the close scrutiny of federal investigators who concluded there was a pattern of biased policing and excessive force.

Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel was named interim chief effective upon Diaz's departure.

Diaz became chief in 2010 when Gil Kerlikowske left Seattle to become drug czar in the Obama administration. At the time, the department was being roiled by public outrage over a series of violent incidents between police officers and members of the public that spawned an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Diaz oversaw the development of a reform plan with the DOJ, although the Seattle Times noted he backed some aspects of the plan but resisted others, including the appointment of a federal monitor.

Just last week, the department was criticized in an outside review for being unprepared to deal with the scope of a May Day protest rally that resulted in violence and vandalism.

"We have had some challenges," said Diaz, a 33-year veteran of the force.

"Is there ever a perfect time [to step down]? No. But it was time for me to go," he added.

Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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