Community leaders urge Seattle City Council to reject police union contract

SEATTLE — Leaders with 24 community groups sent a letter Thursday to the Seattle City Council urging them to vote down a proposed contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild. They say it would roll back police reforms and improvements in accountability passed by the council in 2017. The council is scheduled to vote on the contract Nov. 13.

Members of the Community Police Commission presented the council with a list of ways they believe the contract would compromise accountability. They say it limits transparency and standards when an officer appeals disciplinary measures or makes it harder to discipline an officer for dishonesty and weakens improvement for the 180-day time limit on misconduct investigations.

“We have come too far and worked so hard for police reform,” Estella Ortega, with El Centro de la Raza, said. “So, for the good of our entire city we cannot let community confidence be damaged with the roll back of police reform.”

A Federal Judge will have to sign off on the contract if it’s passed by the council because of the Federal Consent Decree with Seattle Police against biased policing.

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Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the contract Monday, saying it won’t roll back reforms. And Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez explained why she thinks the council should approve it.

“I think there are some legitimate questions and reasonable questions,” Gonzalez said. “And the only way we're going to get answers to those questions is by voting this out of the city council and making sure we have not taken a step backward on reform"

But on Thursday the group of community leaders demanded they don’t pass it, saying the city can implement elements while they negotiate further.

“It’s really a question of leadership -- both on the part of the union and city -- saying we’re not in a good place and we don’t want to force this through in a way that creates division,” Lisa Daugaard, with the Public Defenders Association, said.

“So, of our own free will, we’re going to go back and seek to redo this current agreement, letting all the non-accountability provisions go through, including body cameras and the money.”

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