SEATTLE — There was a show of labor solidarity at Seattle City Hall as multiple labor unions rallied to urge the City Council to approve the first new contract for Seattle police officers since 2014.
Ballard patrol officer Sergio Garcia said, “I want to feel safe. I'm sure everybody here wants to feel safe, and at the same time, take us to a place where we could trust those who swore to protect us. Hopefully, City Council realizes this.”
Police officers will get their first raise in four years at a time when the department is having trouble recruiting and training police officers.
That provision was key when we sat down for an interview with Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best.
“We are paying 2014 wages to police officers who are doing the toughest job under the most scrutiny under federal court order, and yet they showed up every day, day in, day out, doing everything we asked them to do.”
However, the Community Police Commission sees dozens of contract provisions that retreat from police reform.
"The biggest concern we have is that the accountability legislation that a year and a half ago was passed by the City Council is essentially gutted," said commission co-chair Enrique Gonzalez.
Language in the contract, the commission says, can make it more difficult to discipline officers as they draw out appeals.
Asked if the contract allowed her to impose discipline in a timely manner, Best responded, “I don't see this in any way setting us back, and I don't see the chief's obligation and ability to discipline being reduced by this contract. Why on earth would I want to do that?”
Police officers say they are the crucial element to the success of police reform.
“We're about creating... lasting systemic change, and you do that by buy-in from the rank and file. You can't do it without us,” said Seattle Police Guild President Kevin Stuckey.
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