New SPD chief takes charge with plan for more 911 responders

VIDEO: New SPD chief takes charge with plan for more 911 responders

SEATTLE — Wednesday was a day of change at the Seattle Police Department.

On Chief Carmen Best’s last day, officers lined the street to thank her.

“I can’t say enough about you, your diligence, your fortitude, your endurance, your resilience,” she told them.

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Best announced her retirement after the Seattle City Council voted to cut 100 officer positions, a move Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed.

Best’s interim replacement is Adrian Diaz, who announced plans to make 100 more officers available for 911 calls.

He’s moving them to patrol positions from so-called specialty units.

“These specialty units are a model we can no longer afford,” Diaz said.

The chief said about 40 officers will move from divisions like traffic enforcement.

The change will also put dozens of detectives on the street.

“The trade-off is you’re going to have more uniformed officers to respond to your call for help. But post-call, as far as investigation purposes, that’s going to be significantly impacted,” said Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

SPD pledges to closely track if and how much 911 response times improve, and whether it takes longer to close cases.

Diaz said specialty units now focus on things like elder crime and sex offenders.

“We’re downsizing certain units by creating just one or two people in each of the units,” Diaz said.

Specialty units were the trend in recent years, but Diaz said as they grew, the pool of officers available for emergency response shrunk to the lowest level in memory.

He now wants half of SPD’s officers available for patrol and is working with the police union to make these first changes, effective in mid-September.