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Seattle police chief steps down amid department issues

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(The Center Square) – Police Chief Adrian Diaz is stepping down from his role as head of the Seattle Police Department amid an increasing number of issues within the department.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the move on Wednesday, stating that Diaz “will be stepping aside to work on special assignments.”

Former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr will serve as the interim police chief, but Harrell said she will not be considered for the permanent police chief position.

Last month, Diaz was accused of grooming and harassment by four female SPD officers, who filed a $5 million tort claim of damages against the city earlier this month. The officers allege sex discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment within SPD.

Harrell said there was not one event that triggered the move to have Diaz step down.

Harrell listed some of Diaz’s accomplishments since he served as the police chief in 2020. They include SPD meeting both federal consent decree provisions, launching the dual-dispatch pilot program that includes the CARE team, signing a new interim contract with the Seattle Police Officer Guild, and implementing new recruitment and retention initiatives.

Harrell called Diaz a “good human being” multiple times during the news conference.

“We are now looking at the internal culture, of course, at the police department,” Harrell said at the press conference.

Harrell said Rahr has a history of modern policing and is an expert in recruitment. The Center Square reported on statistics revealing that the department had 1,053 sworn officers at the end of March, a loss of 21 from the 2024 adopted budget that included 1,074 sworn officers.

Rahr intends to listen to SPD officers on the first day as interim police chief on Thursday and asked officers to be “brutally honest” with her.

“I am going to do my very best in the short time that I’m here to get you the tools and support that you need to deliver good policing to the people we serve,” Rahr said indirectly to SPD officers.

Along with Diaz, Lt. John O’Neil and Human Resource Manager Rebecca McKechnie are also named in the tort claim. Harrell declined to comment on their current status within SPD.

Last week, Assistant Chief Tyrone Davis was placed on paid administrative leave reportedly due to a complaint from the Community Police Commission, where Davis served as a department liaison.

Diaz spoke favorably about the progress SPD made during his four years as chief, but added that there “is more work to be done.”

“I will continue to support the city as I transition to this new role. I want to thank the men and women of the Seattle Police Department for their hard work,” Diaz said through tears.