Dozens of community organizations pressuring city on police accountability measures

SEATTLE -- More than two dozen organizations sent a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and other city leaders demanding that they keep their promise when it comes to police accountability.

The groups included the ACLU, Mothers For Police Accountability, Seattle King County NAACP and Church Council of Seattle.

In 2010 the many community groups filed a complaint and got the DOJ to enter into a consent decree with Seattle Police. DOJ determined that SPD had a pattern of using excessive force and bias policing.

“Reforms did happen with Seattle Police,” Michele Storms of ACLU said.

But nearly a decade later, the same groups are back on Friday saying the latest contract between the city of Seattle and Seattle Police Guild is breaking the public's trust.

“We urge the city to break the cycle of disappointment,” Storms said.

“The union contract eliminated many accountability measures,” said Diane Narasaki with the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition said.

Federal Judge James Robart has the same concerns about measures in the contract rolling back accountability reforms. He declared that SPD was partially out of compliance with the consent decree.

“There are opportunities to change the collective agreement,” Rich Stolz with OneAmerica said.

But as far as the police union is concerned, the contract is a signed deal.

One of the biggest sticking points in all of this is arbitration, the process that is afforded to officers to appeal a disciplinary decision.

Robart has issues with the private arbitration process.

But SPOG told Q13 News on Friday that arbitration is a right given to many public employees and they should not be any different.

“The community is coming together at a serious time, we are at a crossroads,” Stolz said.

But the people coming together say they are not starting over.

They want Mayor Durkan to come up with solutions that include recommendations given to the city by the Community Police Commission.

“We’ve seen no indication that the city has plans to act on these recommendations,” Miguel Maestas with Centro De La Raza said.

The CPC is a panel that was formed under the consent decree, and the group of citizens are tasked with coming up with reform ideas.

Judge Robart said the CPC, the city along with other parties need to come up with a new plan to come into full compliance.

He’s given the parties until July 15 to turn in that plan.

But the CPC says they’ve had no substantive talks with Mayor Durkan since Robart's ruling.

But the mayor is saying the opposite. Her office released this statement on Friday:

“The City remains in full and effective compliance in every one of the areas required by the Consent Decree and set forth by the sustainment order. We agree with the Court that we remain on track to meet all aspects of this order by January 2020 and the City is fully committed to working with DOJ, the Monitor and the community to ensure we do so. In Judge Robart’s most recent ruling he acknowledged the hard work of our dedicated SPD officers, and praised their efforts, which exemplifies the Seattle Police Department as a national model.

“The Judge has ordered an assessment of the present accountability regime. Given the reforms and the changes made to the entire accountability system since the Consent Decree was entered, an assessment of the accountability regime can only benefit the city.

“The Mayor has already had productive conversations and meetings with the CPC, OPA, OIG and Monitor to do a robust review of the entire accountability regime to ensure lasting reform and to strengthen and maintain public trust in our department.”

 

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