Kathleen O'Toole

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Kathleen O'Toole
Kathleen O'Toole 01.jpg
O'Toole, 2014
Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department
Assumed office
23 June 2014
Personal details
Born (1954-05-09) May 9, 1954 (age 62)

Kathleen M. (Horton) O'Toole (born May 9, 1954)[1] is the Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department (SPD), serving since June 23, 2014. She was the first female police commissioner of Boston, Massachusetts when appointed by the Mayor of Boston. She was appointed by mayor Thomas M. Menino in February 2004.

On 9 May 2006, O'Toole officially announced that she was leaving the Boston Police Department to move to Ireland. She was the first Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, set up to ensure that the resources available to the Garda Síochána are used so as to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in its operation and administration, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services and report to Ireland's Minister for Justice and Equality on changes to improve efficiency in line with best international practice. She then returned to the U.S. and took her current position in Seattle.

Early life[edit]

She was born in 1954 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She moved to Marblehead, Massachusetts at age 13 and to Boston, Massachusetts at age 18. She resided in Boston from that time until she took a position in Ireland in 2006. She graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in 1976[2] and from New England School of Law with a JD in 1982.


Her career includes service as Lieutenant Colonel of Massachusetts State Police from 1992 to 1994; she was appointed to the cabinet position of Secretary, Executive Office of Public Safety in Massachusetts, by Governor William Weld in 1994 and served in this position until 1998. She then became a member of the Patten Commission headed by Lord Patten of Barnes which reformed policing in Northern Ireland and led to the formation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. In May 2014, she was nominated by Mayor Ed Murray to become Seattle's first female chief of police. [3]

Snelgrove Controversy[edit]

While serving as Commissioner of the Boston Police, O'Toole was a central figure in the controversy surrounding the fatal shooting of Victoria Snelgrove during the celebrations of the Boston Red Sox victory over the rival New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, in which riot police fired a "less lethal" FN 303 round, which missed its intended target and struck Ms Snelgrove in the eye, entering her brain and killing her. Ambulances were unable to provide timely treatment to Snelgrove due to the still unruly crowd. While Commissioner O'Toole demoted Superintendent James Claiborne, who was not in the vicinity of the shooting and suspended two officers involved in the incident, no prosecution or dismissal was brought against any officer in the case. Investigations by U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley concluded that criminal charges would not be appropriate.[1]


The three-member Garda Inspectorate examines operational, investigative, managerial and policing strategies to ensure that these meet best practice. Her role within the Garda was to clean up the then-current scandalous conditions in the Gardaí. The Morris Tribunal pronounced that it was "staggered" by the level of indiscipline and insubordination in the force[4] and the Irish Government responded with a revised code of discipline.

She served her full term of office and was asked to stay on until the new Chief Inspector could take up his position in July 2012. She remains a director of a company registered in Ireland; the company report gives her address as the flat above the offices of the Garda Inspectorate in Stephen's Green, Dublin.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Dan O'Toole, now a retired Boston police officer. They have one daughter, Meghan, who received her masters from National University of Ireland, Galway.[5][6]



^ Crowd Control that can Kill Retrieved 3 April 2007

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by
Thomas C. Rapone
Secretary, Executive Office of Public Safety, Comm. Of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Jane Perlov
Preceded by
Paul F. Evans
Commissioner of the Boston Police Department
Succeeded by
Edward F. Davis
Preceded by
Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate
Succeeded by
Robert K. Olson