This afternoon Judge James Robart held a status conference with the parties in the consent decree between the city and the Department of Justice over police misconduct. The issue at hand: now that the city has negotiated a new police contract, how and when to put that in front of Robart for his blessing.
(this article has been heavily modified since it was first published earlier this evening)
This afternoon was the deadline for briefs to be filed by the City of Seattle, the DOJ, the CPC, and other relevant parties related to the tentative labor contract with SPOG, the police officers’ union. Instead, the parties asked Judge Robart to give them until November 2, since he already agreed last week to move a scheduled status conference out to November 5. Robart didn’t respond, so the parties burned the midnight oil and got their briefs in anyway. Also, Inspector General for Public Safety Lisa Judge and OPA Director Andrew Myerberg both sent letters last Friday to the City Council with their feedback on the tentative contract.
Today Judge James Robart, the judge overseeing implementation of the consent decree over biased policing by SPD, scheduled a status conference for next Thursday, November 1, to discuss the tentative contract with Seattle police officers.
This morning the Community Police Commission signaled their unhappiness with the tentative labor contract with Seattle’s police officers, voting unanimously to urge the City Council to reject the contract and to investigate asking the judge overseeing the consent decree to enjoin the city from implementing it.
When Judge James Robart found the City of Seattle in initial compliance with the consent decree earlier this year, it started a two-year countdown for a “sustainment period” before the consent decree is lifted. During that period, the city agreed to provide quarterly reports detailing status of reform efforts, statistics on policing and use of force, and continuing efforts to reform the police department’s practices.
The first of those reports was filed with the court on Tuesday. The department also submitted some proposed changes to its “use of force” policy for Robart’s approval.
This afternoon, the City Council announced that Lisa Judge has been nominated to serve as the city’s first Inspector General for Public Safety.
Back in January, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled that the City of Seattle was in “full and effective compliance” with the consent decree that it signed with the Department of Justice over police misconduct. That declaration kicked off a two-year “sustainment period” in which the city must show that it can fully implement the remainder of its plan and remain in compliance with the consent decree. Last Friday, the City submitted its plan for what will happen over the next two years.
Just over one week into Mayor Tim Burgess’ term, he has signed his first executive order: creating an internal, civilian-run office to oversee secondary employment of off-duty police officers.
“We had hoped that today would be the final thumbs up from Judge Robart to allow us to continue to move forward with the implementation of the accountability legislation,” said Council member Lorena Gonzalez this afternoon in a hastily-arranged press conference. “And obviously we did not get that final approval.”
A hearing that began this morning with U.S. District Court Judge James Robart kindly joking with Gonzalez, Council member Tim Burgess, and SPD Deputy Chief Carmen Best quickly turned into an opportunity for all parties — and especially the judge himself — to vent their frustrations.