SEATTLE - For years, whenever a Seattle mayor has made an announcement about the Seattle Police Department, Assistant Chiefs Clark Kimerer and Mike Sanford have often been somewhere behind the podium.
Not on Wednesday, when Mayor Ed Murray announced that former Assistant Police Chief Harry Bailey is coming out of retirement to take over as interim chief. Neither Kimerer nor Sanford was seen at all. Murray revealed that he asked acting interim chief, Jim Pugel, not to attend so that he didn't take the focus away from Bailey.
No one from the department would discuss the absence of the three command staff members on camera, but many speculated off camera that these high-profile, longtime leaders might not be with the SPD for much longer, and that Bailey was brought-in to make those difficult cuts.
Bailey wouldn't talk about whether he has any plans to make command staff changes.
"That's to be determined," he said.
Murray said, "If there's a need for personnel changes, then I will take his recommendations if they're going to move forward in the process of reform."
Former King County Executive Ron Sims, who's co-chairing the search committee for the new chief, said he's confident Bailey will begin to make whatever changes are necessary, at every level within the SPD.
"Ninety-nine percent of the officers, I'm glad they're here," he told KIRO 7's Amy Clancy. "(But) there's 1 percent that needs to be gone. The reformers will do that."
Even though Kimerer, Sanford and Pugel were not in attendance at the mayor's announcement, Capt. Nick Metz was. Metz's sudden demotion from assistant chief to captain shook up the SPD's rank and file in November. Clancy asked the mayor whether the decision to demote Metz was one of the reasons Pugel was replaced by Bailey.
"No, it wasn't because it didn't happen on my watch," Murray said. "I've only met Nick Metz once in my life, and I still don't know what the background of that was."
Metz told Clancy he was at the mayor's news conference on Wednesday, in uniform, to support Bailey. Metz also said he's excited to see where Bailey takes the department. Clancy asked Metz if he would like to be the permanent chief.
"That's a personal decision that I'm going to have to hold on to for right now," he said. Metz also wouldn't address questions about his sudden demotion.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Clark Kimerer did not return phone calls seeking comment about his absence, and his future with the Seattle Police Department.
If Kimerer, Sanford and Pugel all retire soon, they'd all be able to collect 60 percent of the average of their salaries for the past five years, which was above $177,000 for all of them in 2012.