Mayor slams monitor’s plan for Seattle Police Department reform

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 6:28 PM

Merrick Bobb, the court appointed monitor charged with overseeing reforms of the Seattle Police Department, filed his first year plan with a U.S. District Court judge Tuesday. But Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says it actually slows down progress , and he’s telling the city attorney not to agree to it yet.

Bobb called the plan a “road map to meaningful reform of the Seattle Police Department.” The Monitoring Plan establishes priorities in a number of areas including:

  • how use of force is defined, investigated and reviewed
  • deadlines for implementing reforms
  • new stop and detention policies, training and supervision
  • new crisis intervention training and supervision
  • an early intervention system to help identify patterns of officer misconduct
  • biased free policing policy

The plan had been delayed because of differences between how the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice interpreted the consent decree for reforms. Sources say some, but not, all of the differences were worked out during meetings last week.

Read the monitoring plan

The news a plan had been filed with the court surprised the mayor’s office.  Mayor Mike McGinn quickly made it clear he has not approved Bobb’s plan and issued a memo to the Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes directing Holmes to hold off on any approval until Holmes has received “written authorization from me that the plan satisfactorily meets our objectives.”

The mayor and city attorney have been at odds over who has the authority to interpret and negotiate the terms of the settlement agreement reached with the Department of Justice last year. 

McGinn said Bobb’s monitoring plan is too expensive and too slow in accomplishing real reform.
 
“What I heard from the public is that they want us to move fast on reform and the monitoring plan as proposed would delay a lot of those adoptions of new policies into 2014, which is additional cost and additional delay,” McGinn said.  
 
The mayor isn't just taking issue with the monitor's plan.  He's locked in a power struggle with the city attorney.  The city attorney is Seattle's chief litigator in implementing the police reforms called for in the settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.  But, the mayor's message: I still have the final say.
 
“The city attorney has stated that he has final authority to decide what’s best for the city on the monitoring plan and other aspects of reform and you know, I’m the one that’s going to be held accountable to the public,” McGinn said.
 
That prompted this heated response from Holmes:
 
“Now is the time when City leaders should be working together to achieve lasting reform of our Police Department. Under the rules of ethics and my personal concern for the City’s best interests, I cannot comment in detail on the mayor’s counterproductive statements, except to say that this is a sad day for Seattle. It is especially sad for the women and men of SPD who want us all to move forward, together.”

During an investigation in 2011, the D.O.J. found that a pattern and practice of excessive force by Seattle Police Officers.  

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