Gino Betts announced as new director of Seattle's Office of Police Accountability

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Gino Betts as the next director for the city's Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

Betts, currently the Assistant State's Attorney in Cook County, Illinois, will join the OPA on August 1. He will be put in charge of investigating complaints and misconduct allegations against the Seattle Police Department.

His tenure will begin with a series of community meetings to introduce himself to local leaders, the city says.

"We cannot have safety without accountability, and our Office of Police Accountability is a core component of our efforts to ensure a trusted, effective, and accountable Seattle Police Department," said Mayor Harrell. "After a robust national search, Gino was a clear standout for his commitment to fairness and justice, belief in continuous learning and improvement, and proven experience driving real progress in this critical area. I’m excited to appoint him to this position and know Seattle will be well served by his independent, determined, and thoughtful approach to police accountability."

RELATED: Seattle Police slow response times compounded by 911 call center's "customer service" problem

Betts earned the role following a national search, with the city saying his "professional and lived experience provide an important perspective for ensuring effective oversight efforts." In Cook County, Betts worked on several high-profile cases in Chicago including an investigation against former Police Chief Ronald Watts. He also serves on organizational boards and nonprofits focused on community engagement, safety and diversity in the legal field, according to the city.

Officials note Betts is a Chicago native, growing up in the south and west sides of town—areas most impacted by police misconduct. He also teaches legal writing at DePaul University and trial advocacy at University of Illinois at Chicago.

RELATED: Seattle mayor, police chief announce $2M recruitment plan, but no cash incentive to keep officers

Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 13 Seattle app. Download for Apple iOS or Android. And sign up for BREAKING NEWS emails delivered straight to your inbox.

"I’m honored to join the Office of Police Accountability and to advance efforts to build transparency and community trust in the Seattle Police Department," said Betts. "This is a new opportunity to bring a fresh lens and deliberate approach to these challenging issues – moving forward by engaging community through thorough investigations driven by honesty, transparency, and a dedication to the truth. My pledge to Seattle and all its residents is to evaluate each case brought before me by striving to fully understand the details, facts, and nuances, while never losing sight of justice and the need for true, meaningful accountability."

As director of OPA, Betts will investigate complaints, consult SPD policy with local, state and federal laws, then forward recommendations to the police chief.