Seattle Police Chief nominee John Diaz, 53, must convince the City Council he’s the right guy for the job. The Seattle Times says he must prove to the community he can keep streets safe, ease frayed race relations, and hold his officers to high standards, disciplining or even firing them if they fall short. Councilmember Nick Licata said he worries Diaz is too close to the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild and may “bend over backward” to appease the union, which backed Diaz for chief.
Diaz, who has been serving as interim chief, said that under a neighborhood policing plan, his department is working to rebalance officer work loads so 911 response times are more even across the city. A Late Night Policing Initiative started this weekend. More cops are on duty until 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays through the summer to help clear crowds after they spill out of clubs and bars. Despite Seattle’s low crime rate, Diaz said, there are parts of the city where people don’t feel safe. The department is trying to quantify people’s perceptions of safety through an ambitious survey that divides the city into 17 neighborhoods. The goal is to “customize” policing by area, “because one size does not fit all.” “If you don’t feel safe, you aren’t safe,” Diaz said.