Councilmember M. Lorena González (Pos. 9, Citywide), chair of the Council’s Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans Committee, announced today her intended path forward for consideration of legislation to reform the Seattle Police Department. Following Federal Judge Robart’s initial approval of draft reform legislation, Councilmember González’s committee will soon begin a public process to shape and refine the proposal, including opportunities for public input. Councilmember González also announced her plans to visit three major cities to inform the proposed creation of an Office of Inspector General as a new part of Seattle’s civilianized police accountability system.
Following Mayor Murray’s delivery of draft reform legislation to Council in the coming weeks, Councilmember González will host a series of Council committee meetings to evaluate the proposal. González will also host two evening public hearings to maximize input from Seattleites on Thursday, March 23 at 6pm and Wednesday, May 3 at 6pm. She intends to have reform legislation adopted by the Full Council no later than the end of May.
“On January 4, 2017, Judge Robart provided the City with the legal guidance it needed to finally advance critical legislation to continue the reform of the Seattle Police Department, including broad changes regarding use of force and bias-free policing, but there still remains more work to be done at the legislative level,” said González. “It’s vital that the public be engaged in this process of reform, as public buy-in is essential to cultivating the community’s trust in the integrity of our police department.”
In the coming months, Councilmember González, joined by fellow Councilmember Tim Burgess (Pos. 8, Citywide), members of the Community Police Commission, Mayoral staff and Legislative staff, will visit with officials and community advocates in three cities that have integrated an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) into their police accountability systems. The goals of these study missions are to learn how those municipalities structured and implemented an OIG as a component of their police accountability system, and connect with community leaders who advocated for the implementation of an OIG in their jurisdiction’s accountability system.
Later this week, she will meet with New York City’s Inspector General Philip Eure and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams as well as advocacy groups including Communities United for Police Reform and the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. González and her colleagues will visit with the OIGs and community groups in Los Angeles and New Orleans in February and March, respectively.
In December 2010 more than thirty organizations requested a formal investigation of Seattle Police Department by the Department of Justice. A settlement agreement was reached in July 2012, and in August of that same year the court approved the Settlement Agreement, also known as the “consent decree” and the Monitor was appointed.
González concluded: “Our city’s consent decree is now four years old and it is time that the public process begin. The community is ready.”