Seattle Police Department

Seattle Police Department


One of Amazon's top executives is walking away from the corporate world to join the payroll at the Seattle Police Department. The agency is thrilled to have someone join its upper ranks  who does not come from law enforcement.

Greg Russell, an outgoing Vice President at Amazon's who oversaw the company's corporate applications, will be the Seattle Police Department’s new Chief Information Officer. Russell was one of more than 200 applicants for the newly created position.


Seattle Police Department

Seattle police will soon have new uniforms and a pilot project on body cameras is about to begin.

The two-tone light and dark blue uniform will be replaced with a solid dark blue outfit, which will also bear an updated patch.

Paula Wissel

As police departments across the country struggle with how to be transparent, police in Seattle are looking to get help with this issue from local digital activists. A records request from a young programmer led to Seattle police trying to accomplish something no other department has been able to do.

Paula Wissel

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Ed Ronco

The Seattle Police Department’s former interim chief Jim Pugel will take over as second-in-command to King County Sheriff John Urquhart, the sheriff announced Monday.

Pugel was handpicked by Urquhart, who said he only spoke to Pugel about the job.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council has confirmed Kathleen O’Toole as the first female chief of the Seattle Police Department.

With an 8-to-1 vote Monday, the council approved Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s nomination. Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissent vote.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has nominated former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole as new chief of the Seattle Police Department. 

If confirmed by the Seattle City Council, O’Toole would be the department’s first female chief.

Murray has said he wants someone who can “reform and change the culture” on the force and “restore the respect of the community.”

"We can be a national model for urban policing, and Kathleen O'Toole is the right choice to lead us there," Murray said Monday. 

Ryan Healy / Flickr

A committee searching for Seattle’s next police chief has handed three names to Mayor Ed Murray. The finalists are Elk Grove, California police chief Robert Lehner, Mesa, Arizona chief Frank Milstead and former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole. Committee co-chair Ron Sims said each candidate is a “change agent,” who clears a very high bar set by the mayor.

“They don’t make people like he just demanded that we meet. Where are they? But we found them. And I think the public will be incredibly well served by any of these three,” Sims said.

zeraien / Flickr

Following a decision by the Seattle City Council this week, the Seattle Police Department will soon use facial recognition software. 

The ACLU of Washington doesn't think the move will encroach on citizens' rights, but privacy advocates, including Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, aren’t fond of the new policy.

zeraien / Flickr

The Seattle Police Department has made “significant process” in an effort to reform a culture of excessive use of force and racially-biased policing, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said on Tuesday.

“We now have the building blocks to have significant longstanding reform,” said Durkan during a news conference held following a meeting with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels.

Paula Wissel

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has appointed retired assistant police chief Harry Bailey as the new interim chief for the Seattle Police Department.

Murray said Bailey, a 35-year veteran of the force who retired in 2007, will help implement the court-ordered consent decree while the hiring process for a permanent chief moves forward.


Seattle is stepping up its police presence for tomorrow’s Rock and Roll Marathon in the wake of the Boston bombings two months ago. Twenty-thousand runners are expected along a course that snakes through downtown, south along Lake Washington and over to Mercer Island and back.

Renee Witt is a Seattle Police Department detective. She says there will be bomb-sniffing dogs and police on bicycles. And the police department requests that spectators take certain precautions.

That Hardford Guy / Flickr

An annual march to support legalization of marijuana will take to Seattle streets Saturday. The Cannabis Freedom March will feature a mock funeral procession for cannabis prohibition, complete with a hearse. Organizers say the time has come to lay anti-marijuana laws to rest.

“2013 is the year to really push,” said organizer Sharon Whitson with Hempfest. “We have legalized cannabis in Colorado, and here in Washington state. We have a number of other states seriously looking at it. And a few states, over the course of this year, have legalized medicinal cannabis, as well.”

zeraien / Flickr

The Seattle Police Department is loosening its rules on marijuana use and tattoos for new officer recruits.

The department used to require that those seeking to join the force not have used pot in the past three years, and not more than 25 times in all. But last fall Washington voters legalized marijuana for personal use by adults, and Mayor Mike McGinn says the department should ease up.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Seattle police said they’re continuing to investigate crimes committed in the course of an unruly May Day demonstration, but that they’re proud of how officers handled themselves.

Capt. Chris Fowler said Seattle police incorporated some important lessons from last year’s May Day protests. They had much longer to plan this year, even treating a small March 15 protest as a “rehearsal.” 

Tom Harpel / Flickr

The court-appointed watch dog monitoring the Seattle Police Department has completed his first report on the department's progress, and the report paints a picture of a police force moving unevenly toward reform.

Merrick Bobb and his team's job is to make sure police follow the plan to end excessive use of force and racially-biased policing.

Manuel Valdes / Associated Press

At a recent scene of a fight on Seattle's waterfront, most of the gawkers weren't looking at the handcuffed and yelling suspect or the bloodied victim. Instead, their attention and cameras were directed at a fully restored 1970 Plymouth Satellite police cruiser.

It's the common reaction to the vehicle driven by 30-year-veteran Officer Jim Ritter. By his count, the Plymouth has caused at least three fender-benders. 

Canadian Pacific / Flickr

Seattle's new interim police chief says that despite some turmoil at the outset, an agreement with the Justice Department is already improving his department's operations.

Chief Jim Pugel was picked to fill in after John Diaz retired this week. Pugel acknowledges that he and many others in the police department were upset when DOJ investigators determined in late 2011 that Seattle police had a problem with the unconstitutional use of force. 

Det. Monty Moss / SPD

Seattle city council members said today they want new laws on the books before police turn on a string of surveillance cameras. The network of 30 or so waterfront cameras is being installed in the name of port security, but citizens say those cameras could also turn around and peek into neighborhoods.

A man and his friend were robbed in the wooded area along the west side of Beacon Hill. One of the victims sustained “gruesome” bite wounds during the assault and robbery.

Bellevue police have apologized to a Seattle police officer for three off-duty Bellevue cops who harassed an officer who asked them not to litter outside CenturyLink Field before Sunday's Seahawks game.

How do you make sure there is genuine change within the Seattle Police Department? That’s what some Seattle City Council members are asking as the city gets set to implement a police reform plan mandated by an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

For the complete story, click the listen button above.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

The Seattle Police Department is launching a new advertising campaign on buses and billboards in hopes of generating tips about unsolved killings.

SPD Photo Lab.

With 20 fatal shootings so far, just over half way into the year, Seattle’s murder toll has already topped the number of homicides for all of last year.

The city is stepping up police patrols in crime hot spots they’ve identified and getting officers out of their cars more to increase visibility. 

The latest version of the Seattle Police Department’s blog shows a department striving to build an online audience with catchy headlines and timely posts.

“We’re looking to do even more,” said department spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson. “The blotter was good. If people were interested that was a place they could go, but ... now we need to go to the next level (be) more like a news site.”

Police are investigating but have no suspects from a crowd that attacked a patrol car Monday night in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.

Zoren Deneu / Flickr

Sex offenders have to register when they get out of prison in Washington. So why shouldn’t people who commit a violent crime with a gun have to do the same?

It’s an idea being floated by the Seattle Police Department.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Was a Seattle police stop of two African American men in February just a coincidence or, as some are suggesting, "retaliation" for the publicity surrounding a previous stop. 

The NAACP says it wants answers from Seattle Police.

Courtesy Seattle Police Dept.

Small talk isn’t usually encouraged between police officers and the public.

But, the Seattle Police Department is trying to change that, with a program that encourages people to invite the cops in for “living room conversations. ”

For most people, seeing a police officer in uniform is intimidating. You don’t usually get up close and personal with a cop unless something bad is happening. Seattle Lieutenant Carmen Best says inviting police in for a living room conversation helps build trust.

Police departments have come under increased scrutiny from the Obama administration as the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division steps up investigations of corruption, bias and excessive force.

Some of the targeted law enforcement agencies have had ethical clouds hanging over them for years — the New Orleans Police Department being the prime example — but others, like the Seattle Police Department, aren't exactly usual suspects.