King County hires former Seattle Police Chief Diaz to oversee detention facilities

County operates jail at Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent

  • Monday, April 22, 2019 11:49am
  • News

Bringing in a leader with strong management skills, a background in law enforcement and community policing, and more than three decades of public service, King County Executive Constantine named John Diaz as interim director of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

The county has a downtown Seattle jail and a jail at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. The county also operates a juvenile jail in Seattle.

Diaz was Seattle police chief from 2010 to 2013. He began his career at the Seattle Police Department as a patrol officer in 1980 and held many leadership positions before being named police chief. Diaz was deputy chief of Administration, then deputy chief of Operations, for nearly 10 years, where he oversaw administration of the department, including management of 1,900 employees and a $250 million budget.

At different times in his tenure, Diaz was the lead in the Joint Labor Management Committee with the Seattle Police Officers Guild and represented the department on labor negotiations. He worked on helping to achieve agreements on grievances and resolutions with the eight labor unions that represent members of the Seattle Police Department.

After launching two national searches, King County was not successful in hiring a permanent Department of Adult and Juvenile director. Diaz will assist in the ongoing recruitment process, according to an April 19 county news release.

Diaz will focus on several areas:

• Reducing the use of restrictive housing for all detention populations and implementing new policies and procedures. On April 19, King County transmitted the latest quarterly progress report to Columbia Legal Services, which also documents ongoing policy and practice reforms.

• Coordinating the Road Map to Zero Youth Detention and continued transition of programming at the Youth Services Center to Public Health – Seattle & King County. A new data dashboard highlights progress as well as challenges.

• Resolving operating and labor challenges including the use of mandatory overtime at detention facilities.

• Advising the county’s leadership team on criminal justice matters.

According to a Seattle Times story in February, county records show officers and sergeants at the downtown jail, the Maleng Regional Justice Center and the juvenile jail have worked nearly a million hours of overtime since 2013, at a cost of $52.8 million.


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John Diaz worked as the Seattle Police chief from 2010 to 2013. FILE PHOTO, Seattle Weekly

John Diaz worked as the Seattle Police chief from 2010 to 2013. FILE PHOTO, Seattle Weekly

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