SEATTLE -- A major step for police reform in Seattle was announced Wednesday.
Mayor Ed Murray outlined new rules to strengthen oversight of officer misconduct, with assurances that they will be effectively investigated. He said the current system was “mired in a fog of byzantine procedures.”
The changes are a key requirement of the city’s consent decree with the Department of Justice. The feds are demanding the SPD to change its ways after finding a pattern of excessive force by officers.
In addition to being critical of officer misconduct, the DOJ has been critical of how that misconduct gets handled after it happens. The feds said the SPD didn’t have the systems in place to ensure independent investigations when a cop does misbehave. And that has further eroded the public’s trust in the department.
In response, Murray says, he is going to give new powers to the public to be part of the process.
“My plan commits to making the Community Police Commission the permanent civilian oversight body for police accountability,” Murray said. “I expect the CPC to be a loud and independent voice.”
The Mayor issued several other recommendations, including:
Another piece of the mayor’s reform effort includes separating the investigations unit from the department. That means the OPA will move out of SPD headquarters and into its own space. Murray will also allow the OPA to hire its own investigators instead of being assigned them by the department.
Many of the mayor’s new rules will require agreement from the police officers' union before they can be implemented.