Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is starting one of the largest staffing shake-ups in his eight years in office, hoping to improve officer accountability and dispel perceptions that youth and gun violence are plaguing downtown neighborhoods, the Seattle Times reports. He will create an Office of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which will be headed by Capt. Neil Low. The unit was among two dozen recommendations last month by a panel created by Mayor Greg Nickels to examine police accountability.
Low, 59, will work closely with the department’s civilian-run Office of Professional Accountability. He will also work with the department’s training and audit divisions to make sure all officers understand department ethics. Noting that crime is at a 40-year low in Seattle, Kerlikowske is concerned that some high-profile downtown shootings involving teen suspects and victims may leave residents worried about enforcement in their neighborhoods. Kerlikowske has created the position of director of community relations to work on getting accurate and positive information to the public. While many of the changes are promotions, some officers were blind-sided and are unhappy.