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Seattle police chief steps down, mayor names interim police chief

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz addresses a news conference about changes being made at the department Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Seattle. Diaz, the interim police chief at the time, and former Mayor Jenny Durkan had announced changes in response to anti-racism and anti-police protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Elaine Thompson
/
AP
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz addresses a news conference about changes being made at the department Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Seattle. Diaz, the interim police chief at the time, and former Mayor Jenny Durkan had announced changes in response to anti-racism and anti-police protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz is stepping down from his position. It comes after he and the department have been hit with several lawsuits from former and current officers. Former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr will serve as the interim police chief.

Diaz has been Seattle's police chief for the past four years. In the past few months, Diaz and the department have been accused of sexism and discrimination. Diaz denies those allegations.

Mayor Bruce Harrell has hired an outside investigator to look into those claims.

But on Wednesday, he lauded Diaz as a "good person" and thanked him for his leadership. Harrell said the city remains safe and that residents should have faith in the police department.

"This is how you get better, how you evaluate yourself," Harrell said at a press conference.

"You hire people to give you feedback whether you want it or not. You have open dialogues with proven leaders. You put your own egos to the side and you say we can do and we can be better."

Harrell said Diaz will continue working with the department and will be assigned to work on special projects but gave little detail about his new role.

"He's agreed to set aside and work on special projects and realize the kind of culture change that we want, perhaps could be better served with him stepping aside," Harrell said.

But not everyone is happy with the shuffling.

Victoria Beach is an employee with the police department. She said the decision to remove Diaz is premature.

"It's like he's guilty. Why remove him? Let the truth come out. Everybody got to voice their side, he never got a chance."

The city will start a national search for the next police chief. Interim Chief Rahr said she will not seek the position permanently. She said she's aware the department is going through some "turbulence" and wants to hear from officers to get a better idea of how to help.

Freddy Monares has covered politics, housing inequalities and Native American communities for a newspaper and a public radio station in Montana. He grew up in East Los Angeles, California, and moved to Missoula, Montana, in 2015 with the goal of growing in his career.