Articles

Seattle Police Department Replaces Fleeing CIO

Long-time Seattle technology leader Bill Schrier will pick up where Greg Russell left off.

by / September 17, 2015
Bill Schrier is leaving his position as a senior policy adviser for the state of Washington's Office of the CIO to become the interim CIO for the Seattle Police Department, effective Sept. 23. David Kidd

A familiar face has rejoined Seattle public-sector tech.

Former Seattle Chief Technology Officer and 30-year public-sector veteran Bill Schrier has joined the Seattle Police Department (SPD) as interim CIO, filling in for Greg Russell, a former Amazon executive who began in March of this year and abruptly quit earlier this month to head back to the private sector.

Schrier will lead programs like the department's body camera and video redaction program, a mobile policing strategy, and an evolving open data policy.

Rather than go through another extensive, months-long hiring process for its newly created CIO position, SPD grabbed Schrier to execute the plan that Russell established, the veteran explained.

"They've done a solicitation for a decision analytics platform (DAP) and basically to pull information from a wide variety of databases, both to support internal operations in terms of tracking uses of force, for example, but also to support real-time analytics for the 911 center and for officers in the field," Schrier said.

The SPD's data analytics platform will follow in the footsteps of others, like those launched by Memphis, Tenn., and New York City, and follow the directives of the president's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the Police Data Initiative, of which Seattle is one of 21 participating cities.

"Another thing that Seattle Police specifically wants to do is get more mobile devices in the hands of police officers in the field," Schrier said. "Smartphones, tablet computers, that sort of thing. Every police vehicle has a mobile data computer in it today, but it isn't really mobile in the sense that a tablet computer or smartphone is. And some smartphones have been deployed to officers in the field, but they want to make that deployment much wider."

Schrier attended SPD's hackathon in December, which aimed to solve the city's data management problem brought about by the adoption of police body cameras and a mass video records request by an anonymous Seattle man. Schrier wrote an article for GeekWire in June detailing SPD's challenges around body camera video data, though he said he's not learned anything new about the city's plans since then.

Schrier will officially join the SPD on Sept. 23, leaving his position as senior policy advisor and program manager for the Washington State Office of the Chief Information Officer. Schrier will retain his role as chair of the Washington State Interoperability Executive Committee and continue to serve as the primary state contact for FirstNet.

The SPD CIO position is limited to a three-year term, but Schrier said he wasn't sure he would last that long. And as for whether he would ever retire, he said he is uncertain.

"That's a good question," he said. "My wife keeps asking me that question. We'll see. At some point I will scale back to a full-time job. It definitely wasn't on my radar screen, really wasn't on Seattle Police's radar screen until Greg quit. But, you know, when an opportunity like this falls in your lap to really help make a difference in public safety, how can you pass it up?"

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.