Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Ain't I a Stinker? | Quote of the Day »

Monday, June 30, 2008

Police Accountability Changes Headed to Council

posted by on June 30 at 13:08 PM

Later today, Council Member Tim Burgess will introduce a set of sweeping changes to Seattle’s police accountability system, redefining roles and redistributing work among the city’s three-tiered police accountability system. The proposed changes are intended to bring the city’s police oversight process in line with recommendations made in the last year by the City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels’ police accountability panels, as well as the new police contract.

The proposed bill amends previous legislation requiring the police chief to provide an explanation when disagreeing with OPA recommendations on officer discipline (to meet privacy standards detailed in the new police contract), extends the number of terms the director and auditor of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA)—the Seattle Police Department’s internal investigation unit—can serve, and expands the number of board members and term limits for the council’s Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB). The legislation also shifts some responsibilities around between OPARB, the OPA and its auditor, who will take over some of the review board’s reporting and statistical analysis duties.

OPARB’s mission is also redefined in the bill, which would task the review board with performing community outreach and advising the city on police conduct outside of the complaint process. The legislation also reaffirms that OPARB is still not allowed to view unredacted police files—due to an unfair labor practice complaint filed by the police guild, something the city may appeal—and is specifically prohibited from commenting on officer discipline.

Finally, Burgess’s proposal would allow OPA’s director and auditor to serve three three-year terms—instead of the current 2 terms—while OPARB would expand to seven members, who could serve four two-year terms, rather than the two three-year terms currently allowed.

Burgess’s public safety committee will vote on the proposed changes tomorrow afternoon.

RSS icon Comments


Jonah - you write: "The proposed legislation would require the police chief to provide an explanation when disagreeing with OPA recommendations on officer discipline."

A law requiring this was passed 9 months ago (and signed by the Mayor in October)

Ordinance 122513 "to require that the Chief of Police and the OPA Director provide written explanations when they disagree on the final disposition of a complaint investigation, and to require that the OPA Director provide a written explanation when his or her recommendation to sustain a misconduct complaint results in no discipline because the complaint investigation was not completed within the time period specified in the applicable union contract."

Posted by LH | June 30, 2008 1:57 PM

Is this an actual and substantial reform, or just a toothless facelift?

Posted by vooodooo84 | June 30, 2008 2:17 PM

It all depends on how much faith you have in our system. It's definitely a facelift. Whether it's toothless remains to be seen.

Posted by Jonah S | June 30, 2008 2:55 PM

thanks for changing the earlier post!

Posted by LH | June 30, 2008 3:34 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.