Open Letter to Seattle City Council
We, the undersigned candidates for Seattle City Council position 8, call upon the City Council to strengthen the police accountability legislation. With each month, we hear another disturbing and disheartening story of excessive force and racial profiling involving our police department. Current proposals by our elected officials do not go far enough. We need to enact true police reform which requires greatly expanding civilian oversight of the Seattle Police Department. We call on City Council to include the following in the final police accountability legislation:
* Fully fund the Community Police Commission (CPC)
The legislation being proposed on Monday underfunds the critical work of the Community Police Commission. The city must identify the necessary means to fully fund the CPC as a permanent set aside in the budget.
* True civilian oversight
It is critical that any police reform passed by the city includes true civilian oversight. For this reason the Discipline Review Board (DRB) must be abolished and replaced with the proposed Inspector General, Office of Police Accountability (OPA), and CPC. The CPC must have the power to conduct yearly performance reviews of OPA and to direct the Inspector General to investigate specific issues. Without true civilian oversight, we cannot be assured that a strong mayor, city council or police union will block needed reforms.
* Transparency concerning officer discipline required during the bargaining process.
The city must require transparency when negotiating department policy on officer discipline during contract negotiations. The community has a right to offer input on policy concerning excessive force, racial profiling, and other issues that can result in an officer being disciplined. The Department of Justice investigation of SPD found that in over 200 cases of excessive force and racial discrimination, not a single police officer was fired. This is evidence that we need transparency to ensure community input is taken into account in the final contract agreement.
* CPC to hire its Executive Director
The members of the CPC must be able to select their own Executive Director. The original legislation called for the Mayor to appoint the Executive Director but this concentrates too much power with the executive. CPC members have the knowledge and community insight to select an appropriate person for the role and better ensures independent review.
We, the undersigned candidates for Seattle City Council for Position 8, ask the City Council to adopt these needed reforms in the police accountability legislation.