The Minneapolis police First Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell is on the shortlist to become Seattle’s next police chief, with his name announced as one of three finalists for the job last week.
The other finalists are Cameron McLay, the former top cop in Pittsburgh, and Ely Reyes, assistant chief of the Austin Police Department in Texas.
The announcements were made Friday as Seattle officials underscored the need to bring in an outsider to reform the city’s 1,400-officer department, which was the subject of a 2012 federal investigation into allegations of brutality and biased policing, the Seattle Times reported.
“I’m very confident that each of the finalists that I have mentioned and their leadership styles will serve us incredibly well,” said Ron Sims, a member of a committee charged with finding the city’s next chief, at a news conference last week. The committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to Mayor Jenny Durkan, who will interview each candidate, and site visits will be conducted in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Austin.
A final decision is expected by late June or early July. The pick will replace Interim Chief Carmen Best, whose omission from the list of finalists drew sharp criticism from the city’s black leaders, the Times reported.
Frizell, who is black, is a highly decorated commander with a military background who was promoted last winter for his second go-round as inspector of the First Precinct, which covers all of downtown, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and the University of Minnesota’s West Bank campus. The 25-year department veteran previously held the politically sensitive post, before being named deputy chief of patrol by former Chief Janeé Harteau.
But the two had a falling out following Frizell’s unsuccessful run for Hennepin County sheriff, challenging incumbent Sheriff Rich Stanek. Upon his return from the campaign trail, Harteau offered him the rank of commander of operations and administration, which would have put him in charge of recruitment and hiring. After he expressed dismay with her decision in a newspaper interview, she demoted him again, this time to his civil service rank of lieutenant.
Two years ago, he was also a finalist for the St. Paul chief job, which eventually went to Todd Axtell, a popular, longtime department insider.
When he returned to the First Precinct in December, Frizell updated the precinct’s crime-tracking technology and directed his officers to get creative about tackling downtown crime.
Chief Medaria Arradondo issued a statement Tuesday praising Frizell. “I’m confident that if he is selected as Seattle’s next top cop he will continue that leadership with great success, building relationships of trust and accountability with the rank and file and the entire Seattle community,” the chief said.