Amazon IT Exec Greg Russell Named Seattle Police Department CIO

By Steven Norton, Wall Street Journal (Mar. 11, 2015)

The Seattle Police Department has named a top Inc. executive as its new chief information officer.

Greg Russell, who led corporate applications, enterprise data warehouse and IT at Amazon, will join the SPD on March 17. There, he will find new ways to track and potentially predict crime using analytics, manage IT and help implement the department’s body camera project, the department said.

Mr. Russell held “the CIO role at Amazon,” and led a global team of 800, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had five broad responsibilities including platform availability, global finance and HR systems, enterprise data warehousing, IT services and internal fraud detection.

In a Q&A on the website SPD Blotter, Mr. Russell said he sees the new job as an opportunity to simplify law enforcement and make it more efficient. He encouraged making more data available to the public, but acknowledged he will have to grapple with concerns around privacy and data use.

“What’s important for me to understand is what we can and cannot share based on privacy,” he said in the Q&A. “I don’t quite understand that yet. So that would be number one.”

Asked what drew him away from Amazon, he said the team there was the smartest he ever worked with. “It grew me as an individual. But, really, what I’m doing is helping ship brown boxes across the universe. Is that useful to the world? I wanted the opportunity to give something back.”