Feb 222014

Yesterday, fellow Seattleite Joe Szilagyi issued this thoughtful suggestion for police reform:

I’m convinced we can’t reform the Seattle Police unless there is a voter-driven ballot measure that specifically bars the City from entering into any contract agreement with SPOG that does not includes provisions for reform, like total civilian oversight. Successive Mayors and City Councils are either afraid to or unwilling to take on SPD and SPOG. The only solution if it’s legal is to take away the choice from the City completely. Would Ed Murray do this, or would the city need to have it’s hands tied off? It would be an amazing leadership opportunity for him to champion this–and to get it encoded into law so that no future Mayor or City Council could trivially undo it all.

Bar the city from accepting ANY future or modified contracts with any police union unless there is the following:

  1. A civilian head/controller of the SPD, like a Commissioner, who is nominated by the Mayor and renewed every 2 years by the City Council. This person controls all SPD and replaces the Chief as head director.
  2. A civilian oversight board who is the final arbiter of discipline. 11 positions. 2 selected by the Mayor and approved by the Council. 1 each selected by each Councilmember and approved by the Council. 4 year terms. Can’t be active duty LEO.
  3. Remove the authority from anyone in SPD to “undo” discipline.

Don’t take items 1-3? Fine. The City is legally barred from signing a new or revised contract then. You can stay under your old one.

If this passed by voters as a ballot measure, can you imagine the immense political backlash any Mayor or City Council would face if they tried to undo it? Can you imagine the political victory any Mayor or City Council that championed this would earn?

In response, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wrote:

I agree with real civilian over site. I might point out that for the first time the US civil rights division of the justice department made positive comments about progress in the Seattle Police Department. I am also glad we have a leader in Chief Bailey who making needed changes. Yes he changed the punishment from a day of suspension that the officer in question could have used vacation to cover to training of more then one day. Our chief is the first African American who is also creating the most diverse command staff in our history of our city

That is a direct quote, copied 17 hours after it was written, well after Mayor Murray came back to follow up and skipped the opportunity to tighten up the language.

Joe then asked:

Mayor Ed Murray, the changes to the population of SPD leadership are good–but the problem remains that SPD polices itself and has ultimate control over its own disciplinary process. This situation here is a symptom of that larger problem: that SPD polices itself.

The current labor agreement is locked in. What are you willing to do to lead us in some binding form to force future executives and city councils to put full ultimate control of SPD into the hands of the people in our city? What do we need to make happen for us to have total and absolute civilian control over SPD?

No mayor has apparently ever had the nerve or courage to lead in this area. Will you lead us there?

Mayor Murray has not yet answered any of Joe’s questions.

 Posted by at 1:53 pm

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