SEATTLE - Seattle Police Chief John Diaz announced his retirement Monday after more than two and a half years on the job and more than 30 years with the Seattle Police Department.
"I've had the honor of working with some of the finest men and women in policing across this country," Diaz said during a press conference.
Diaz became the chief of police on August 16, 2010 after serving more than two years as interim chief.
“Major crime is down 10 percent since he took control of the department,” said Mayor Mike McGinn.
At the press conference, McGinn said Diaz has had to deal with several major investigations, including the murder of Officer Timothy Brenton in 2009, the Greenwood neighborhood arsons and last year’s deadly shootings at Café Racer.
“In the beginning of 2012, we saw the murder rate spike with 22 murders in the first five months,” said McGinn. “The department got busy. Gun stings, violence emphasis patrols, partnering with the community, partnering with the federal government on enforcement. In the next seven months of 2012, there were four murders. Hard to know exactly what did it, but I know the work of the police department made a big difference.”
Currently, an independent monitor is working to help reform the Seattle Police Department. A U.S. District Judge accepted the reform plan by monitor Merrick Bobb last month.
“We changed the structure of the Department to ensure that we could quickly and efficiently move through that settlement agreement and make sure we get it into place as quickly as possible,” Diaz said about the reform settlement.
“It’s no secret to anyone that it’s been a challenging and turbulent time for our Seattle Police Department, but this chief has laid the foundation for the next generation of leaders, and he now passes the baton and I am deeply, deeply grateful to Chief Diaz for his service to this community,” said McGinn.
At the press conference, McGinn announced that Jim Pugel will serve as the interim police chief.