The Department of Justice filed a “Notice of Approval” with the U.S. District court Wednesday, throwing its weight behind a proposal submitted by the monitor charged with overseeing changes in the Seattle Police Department. The proposal outlines Monitor Merrick Bobb’s first year plan for making reforms called for in a Settlement Agreement between the Justice Department and Seattle to address a pattern and practice of excessive force by police officers. The monitoring plan still has to be approved by a federal judge.
“As the Parties move forward with the first year of implementation of the Settlement Agreement, the Monitoring Plan will provide guidance to the Parties and create clear expectations for the people of Seattle,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “As such, the Monitoring Plan complies with the requirements of the Settlement Agreement, does not impose new obligations on the parties, and avoids unnecessary delays while still providing an opportunity for collaborative implementation,” Durkan said.
In the meantime, the Seattle Mayor and Seattle City Attorney continue to escalate their fight over who is authorized to give the city’s stamp of approval for the monitoring plan. Mayor Mike McGinn publicly slammed the plan just hours after it was filed in federal court Tuesday, saying it’s too slow to implement reforms and too costly.
McGinn sent a lengthy letter to City Attorney Pete Holmes on Tuesday, ordering him not to approve the plan on behalf of the city, even though Holmes maintains it’s his job as elected city attorney to do just that.
“The ball is in Pete’s court,” said McGinn. “Is he going to accept direction from the executive branch of government, or will he go another direction?”
The Mayor said he would like to sit down with Holmes, Police Chief John Diaz and Bobb “to see if we can find a path forward together.”
Holmes fired back with his own statement saying he’s pleased that Mayor McGinn is ready to “work with us on the process of reform.” But Holmes said he also hopes that the Mayor is rethinking his letter, which Holmes said was “filled with inaccurate and unwarranted accusations and assertions, and even called for litigation between the Mayor’s office and our office.”
Holmes said that “until the Mayor withdraws and disclaims” the letter and memorandum, “we will be forced to continue preparing a response.”
For his part, Bobb said “I am not attempting to involve myself in Seattle politics.” Bobb said his proposed plan is a collaborative one.
“Last week, when I was in Seattle, I spent the better part of three days negotiating with all the parties, listening to all their comments and their comments were all incorporated into the monitoring plan, so if the SPD wants to see if their comments were incorporated, it was, the mayor, it was,” Bobb said.
The feud is escalating just as Bobb prepares to brief the Seattle City Council Monday, and update a federal judge Tuesday, on how Seattle intends to address problems of excessive force and concerns over biased policing.
“Some of this drama is exciting, it’s interesting, it’s not reform and it’s not effective policing and that’s really where I want to see us try to regain focus,” said Seattle City Council President Sally Clark.
City attorney statement
City Attorney Peter S. Holmes released the following statement on Wednesday:
The City Attorney’s Office is pleased that Mayor McGinn stated today that he wants to work with us on the process of police reform. We have always valued the Mayor’s and the Seattle Police Department’s input and have considered them full partners in trying to achieve the best outcome for the City and the people of Seattle. We have always been open to meeting with the Mayor and all other interested parties to find the best way forward and resolve any differences. We certainly hope that the Mayor’s statements on the radio today indicate that he is rethinking the letter and memorandum that he and Carl Marquardt, his legal counsel, sent to us yesterday -- a letter that was filled with inaccurate and unwarranted accusations and assertions, and even called for litigation between the Mayor’s office and our office. Unfortunately, until the Mayor withdraws and disclaims yesterday’s letter and memorandum, we will be forced to continue preparing a response. In the meantime, regardless of what the Mayor does, we are working diligently to prepare for next week’s hearing before U.S. District James Robart and to address the issues presented by the monitoring plan.