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Seattle Police Department Hires Amazon Executive As Chief Information Officer

Seattle Police Department
Greg Russell, SPD's new Chief Information Officer


One of Amazon's top executives is walking away from the corporate world to join the payroll at the Seattle Police Department. The agency is thrilled to have someone join its upper ranks  who does not come from law enforcement.

Greg Russell, an outgoing Vice President at Amazon's who oversaw the company's corporate applications, will be the Seattle Police Department’s new Chief Information Officer. Russell was one of more than 200 applicants for the newly created position.


Mike Wagers, SPD’s Chief Operations Officer, said Russell will run the I-T department and figure out ways police in the field can use technology to help them do their jobs. One example is making sure officers have smartphones, that work.


“You don’t have clunky apps that are going down, that it connects to the right system. we want officers to have the right data their in their hands. and we also want them to be able to enter data while they’re in the field so they don’t have to go to the car to do it or worse, they don’t have to go to the station to do it,” said Wagers.


SPD wants police out in the field as much as possible so they can build public trust.  Along with announcing Russell’s hire, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she’s bringing in four new Assistant Police Chiefs.


The department is working with the Federal Justice Department to comply with reforms in response to excessive use of force. O’Toole said the hires are innovators who share her drive for progress and passion for public service.


Robert Merner is the Chief of Detectives in Boston. Perry Terrant lead’s Yakima’s Gang Free Initiative. Steve Wilske is being promoted from the Southwest Precinct and Lesley Cordner, is moving up from her job as one of O’Toole’s aids.


The new Chief Information Officer, Greg Russell, is from Scotland, and became a U.S. citizen last May. At first he turned down the job, but in an interview posted on the SPD website he said while his team at Amazon is wonderful, he questioned the main goal of his job; shipping brown boxes around the world.


He wanted an opportunity to give something back, so he picked up the phone and asked if the job with the Seattle Police Department was still available.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.