Police accountability legislation kicks into gear

Earlier this month, Judge Robart approved (with some conditions) draft legislation to address police accountability in Seattle. Now it’s the City Council’s turn to take up that bill and move it through its legislative process to make it law. And last week, Council member Lorena Gonzalez issued a press release outlining the timeline for that work.

 The Council will have its first discussion of the legislation Monday morning at its weekly Council Briefing, in anticipation of the draft approved by Robart formally being transmitted to the Council and run through the Introduction and Referral Calendar to make it a real bill.

Gonzalez will then host a series of meetings in her Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee, which oversees SPD, to discuss, amend and eventually pass the bill.

Emphasizing in her press release that “It’s vital that the public be engaged in this process of reform, as public buy-in is essential to cultivating the community’s trust in the integrity of our police department,” she has announced two evening public hearings: Thursday March 23rd and Wednesday May 3rd (both at 6pm).

Last week, Gonzalez and Council member Tim Burgess (a former police officer) took the first of three fact-finding trips to visit cities that have already implemented an Office of Inspector General (OIG) as part of their police accountability mechanism. An OIG is a key part of the city’s proposed plan. Their trip last week took them to New York City to meet with its Inspector General, as well with council members and advocacy groups. Gonzalez and Burgess plan to visit Los Angeles in February and New Orleans in March.

Gonzalez notes that she intends to have reform legislation adopted by the full Council no later than the end of May.