• Police reforms talks proposed as chief calls for respect

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    Seattle's Police Chief is asking for support for police as the department struggles to retain and recruit officers.

    It comes as some City Council members say the new labor contract should be partially renegotiated.

    When it comes to Constitutional policing, Seattle Police are almost in full compliance with the seven-year-old federal consent decree. But one issue remains -- accountability.

    In 2014, an officer punched a handcuffed woman after she kicked him. He was fired, but his termination was overruled by an arbitrator.

    That's allowed by the new police labor contract but Federal Judge James Robart says it shouldn't be.

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    Today, advocates for police reform gathered on the federal courthouse steps to ask the Seattle Police Officers union to renegotiate the accountability provisions in the contract.

    "We are requesting, we are asking that SPOG jointly come to the table to address the concerns raised by Judge Robart who sits in this very courtroom."

    Earlier we saw Police Chief Carmen Best speak up for her officers, “We really need the support of our public officials and our public for the officers. We need them to stand up for the work the officers, the men and women have been doing in this organization we are losing good people and we know it's because they feel like they're not supported by public officials and we need to have that done.”

    Council members say they approved the labor contract even though it meant overturning the accountability provisions they passed in 2017, so police could get a long-delayed raise.

    "We approved their contract. We approved $40 million in back pay for the time they didn't have a contract. And we approved hiring bonuses."

    Mayor Durkan has hired respected outside police consultants to work on a new police accountability plan.

    But local advocates who've worked on reforms for decades fear they will be ignored.

    Diane Narasaki of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition called it, “A betrayal of trust and distraction which will only result in further delay of what needs to be done.”

    In a statement to KIRO 7, the Mayor's office responded: "The City will not propose any potential next steps without the input of the… community, and our accountability partners, and without the review and approval of Judge Robart."

    Judge Robart, in this case, has given the city an extra month to come up with a better accountability plan. 
     

     


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