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Monday, March 16, 2009

Interim Police Chief Candidate May Have Trouble With Seattle's Police Union

Seattle Deputy Police Chief John Diaz

News has just been leaked late last night that Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has picked Seattle Deputy Police Chief John Diaz as the temporary replacement for Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske who has been picked by President Obama to be the next drug Czar.

However, there appears to be a catch. According to the Seattle Times, the Seattle Police Officer's Guild that represents Seattle Police Department's rank and file officers isn't happy with that pick and appears to have launched a behind-the-scenes mudslinging campaign against Diaz in an attempt to undermine the mayor's choice for the chief's replacement.

Upon looking at Diaz's 29 year history with the SPD though, I don't see any outward indication that he's done anything but toe the line in regards to the public relations front that Seattle and it's police department put forward during any police misconduct incident. In fact, he's often been the public face towards the press when questionable incidents occur and has always urged the media to defer to the department's internal investigations findings, even when those findings were called into question.

So, for the guild to put forward such an aggressive offensive against Diaz means there must be something different that happens internally that's quite different than the deferential demeanor that Diaz has displayed to the press in the past. That could be because, as assistant chief under Kerlikowske, Diaz had an important role in officer discipline.

But, given Kerlikowske's tendencies to overturn findings of misconduct given to him by his own internal affairs department, the Office of Professional Accountability, on a regular basis, it's hard to see how Diaz would have had much disciplinary contact with the rank and file officers in the first place, given that so few ever actually got disciplined.

None the less, the police union's efforts behind the scenes to undermine Diaz's character must be quite intense as Diaz has asked the mayor if he still wants him to accept the post in light of the guild's efforts. Indeed, the Times quotes an unnamed city official as saying that Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, has privately told Nickels the Guild has serious problems with Diaz.

One thing is clear though, I've not uncovered any indication of misconduct or corruption in Diaz's history with the Seattle Police Department. So, if the guild has a beef with Diaz, it doesn't appear to be because he's a dirty cop.

Whatever the case, this is one we'll have to keep an eye on, especially if the guild offers up their own choice as candidate to replace Kerlikowske and the mayor backs off from his choice of Diaz as interim chief.


Anonymous said...

Sir.... Check the P.I. 911 Blog... two things reported you may be able to verify 1) His wife is a subordinate on the dept: How can he serve as ultimate authority on discipline. 2) He was called "shotgun Johnny" for a reason..... Ask around... You may be suprised at what may break in the coming days...some of these items would fit perfectly on your blog. Thanks for reading

Packratt said...

Thank you for the comment, though, I can't seem to find anything relevant in the PI's 911 blog, is it a comment or an actual blog post? If you could, a link would be helpful.

I'm not sure having a spouse on the force would be a limiting factor in such a decision, after all, there's a significant number of married couples and close relatives in the SPD, isn't there? If it wasn't a problem when she was a lower rank prior to his appointment, why is it now?

Also, I'll keep my eye out for any new information, but if you have anything else to share about the appointment of John Diaz as interim chief until then, just let me know.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for word back from some city officials to see what their thoughts are, so it's only fitting that I let SPD officers have their say too, so I'm willing to listen to your concerns too.

Take care out there, and thank you for taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

John "Shotgun Johnny" Diaz got his nickname because in 1983 he took a shotgun and chased around the room a competitor for the affections of one Linda Pierce, who's name should ring a bell. No one involved would cooperate with the investigation later.

This is why he is hated so much within his own organization. It's not just because of his political pandering, aloofness, or sub-par intellect.

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