This morning Judge Robart ruled “from the bench” that he has found the City of Seattle to be partially out of compliance with the 2012 Consent Decree between the Department of Justice and the city regarding biased policing.
Last week, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that during the month of May the city would conduct “emphasis patrols” in seven neighborhoods across the city “to improve public safety and address community maintenance needs.” This left many people — including most of the City Council members — confused about what this program was about. Council member Lorena Gonzalez sent Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best a letter, asking over a page of detailed questions. After some back and forth, it was agreed that representatives from SPD and other participating city departments would present at Gonzalez’s committee hearing this morning to shed further light on the program.
If there’s one thing that the Seattle Police Department has become quite good at, it’s churning out reports on its reform efforts. In the run-up to a pivotal hearing on May 15th with U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, the city has filed several reports on it recent work to continue and sustain its police reforms under its consent decree with the Department of Justice.
Seattle politics is pretty toxic at the moment; it seems everyone is angry about something, especially when it comes to the homelessness crisis and bike lanes.
That said, there are some important conversations happening right now that we all need to be well-informed to participate in. Here are some things you should be reading.
As directed by Judge James Robart, who oversees the city’s 2012 consent decree over biased policing, the Community Police Commission and the City of Seattle have both filed their final briefs on the new contract with SPOG, the police officers’ union, and on the recent arbitrator’s reversal of the termination of Adley Shepherd for excessive use of force. And neither side is backing down.
This afternoon, the City Council passed into law an ordinance that would authorize the Seattle Police Department to offer hiring bonuses to new recruits as well as “lateral hires” from other jurisdictions.
In January 2018, Judge James Robart declared the City of Seattle to be in “full and effective compliance” with the Consent Decree the city and the DOJ signed with regard to biased policing. That declaration kicked off a two-year “sustainment period” in which the city is required to remain in compliance, and show it is doing so through a scheduled series of audits and other reports.
This morning, the City Council voted out of committee a bill authorizing the Seattle Police Department to pay hiring bonuses, as a new method to help it meet its hiring goals.
This afternoon, the Department of Justice submitted its brief to U.S. District Court Judge James Robart in response to his order to show cause why the terms of the city’s contract with SPOG and the recent reinstatement of Officer Adley Shepherd don’t mean that the city has fallen out of compliance with the Consent Decree.
In its brief, the DOJ argued that the overturning by an arbitrator of Shepherd’s termination isn’t a sign of a systemic pattern or practice of excessive use of force. It also found that the SPOG collective bargaining agreement neither conflicts with the Consent Decree nor threatens to undermine compliance with it.
Yesterday Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that her office has transmitted to the City Council a proposed ordinance authorizing hiring bonuses of up to $15,000 for “lateral” hires into the Seattle Police Department — that is, police officers from other jurisdictions who move to SPD.