SPD Shakeup: Chief O’Toole replaces command staff

SEATTLE -- New Seattle Police Chief  is removing all four assistant chiefs in the biggest department housecleaning in years.

O’Toole will name her new command staff Wednesday.  At least two are expected to come from outside the Seattle Police Department, an unprecedented move in Seattle.

This big shakeup comes as the SPD continues and, in some cases, struggles to meet the strict demands of the U.S. Department of Justice to root out excessive force among the ranks.

O’Toole has implemented a number of reforms, including better training, but she has yet to make her mark on hiring, until now.  All four assistant chiefs, who were in place when she arrived in Seattle, are out.  They have been given the option of being demoted or retiring.

They are: Robin Clark, Mike Washburn, Tag Gleason, and Paul McDonagh.  Together, they represent more than 130 years of experience with the SPD.

O’Toole will be retaining her deputy chief, Carmen Best, the department’s No. 2 in command, and the only member of the current staff that she appointed to the job.

O’Toole’s bold move is part of the larger, aggressive reform plan she promised when she took the job last June.

“We need to provide people at all levels of the organization a clear vision, a clear road map, and give everyone a chance to get on board,” she said at the time.  “Those people who don’t want to get on board or those people who do resist, well, we have to hold them accountable.”

O’Toole admits that the road to restoring community trust in the department is going to be rocky.  Just last month she had to apologize for a white officer who mistreated an elderly black man standing on a corner with a golf club.