Council President Bruce Harrell (District 2, South Seattle) will discuss the elements of a potential new law codifying the bias-free policing policy adopted through the Department of Justice Consent Decree during the Education, Equity and Governance Committee, which he chairs, on Wednesday. Bias-based policing is the different treatment of a person by officers motivated by any characteristic of protected classes, including, but not limited to age, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
The bill could include the following elements:
- A definition and prohibition against biased policing;
- The ongoing collection of relevant data to inform analysis of police behaviors; and,
- The ability of a victim of biased policing to file legal claims.
Though new policies are now in place at the Seattle Police Department and significant progress has been made on police reform and community policing, the City has not made any binding long-term commitments to bias-free policing. Biased policing is at the forefront of the country’s dialogue at the moment, but there is no guarantee under the current Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) that this will continue when the City is no longer under the consent decree. Nothing in the SMC commits the City to bias-free policing in the long term, nor is there a specific legal remedy or route defined for aggrieved parties.
“What is driving this effort is the relationship and safety of our community and our police officers,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “Our ability to build trust and bridge the divide in our community will be closely linked by making bias-free policing part of City law.”
The Committee will discuss the potential for Harrell’s proposed law to codify SPD’s current internal policies about bias-free policing, addressing community concerns. Such legislation would commit the City to prioritizing constitutional policing on an ongoing basis under Seattle law.
Discussion of Bias-Free Policing Law at the City Council’s Education, Equity & Governance Committee
Wednesday, July 20
Council Chambers, 2nd floor
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Ave., Seattle 98104