Creating a Community Police Commission

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Yesterday the City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee considered legislation to create a Community Police Commission. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Harrell, chair of the committee, was voted out of committee by a 3-0 vote, and will move to the Full Council for consideration on Monday, October 22.

The creation of the Commission was included as part of the City’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to reform policing in Seattle.

Applications are being taken to serve on the commission. The deadline to apply is November 1. Information on applying, and selection criteria, can be found here. You can view the meeting on the Seattle Channel website.

The commission will make recommendations to the City on implementation of the agreement, community engagement, accountability, investigatory stops and data collection, and other issues. The commission can make budgetary proposals and recommendations to the Council.

The legislation currently calls for 11 members, including one member from the Seattle Police Officers Guild and one from the Seattle Police Management Association, and nine members representative of Seattle’s diverse populations. The members are appointed by the Mayor, and confirmed by the Council. During the next week or Councilmembers will be continuing discussions about the best number of members for the committee.

The agreement with the DOJ stated, “ongoing community input into the development of reforms, the establishment of police priorities, and mechanisms to promote community confidence in SPD will strengthen SPD and facilitate police/community relationships necessary to promote public safety,” while noting that Police officers participation is an important element of this.

I want this committee to be successful, and meaningful. For that reason I prioritized including language in the legislation that can allow the Community Police Commission to have a role in enforcing the agreement, if the federal judge determines the Commission has standing, and meets federal requirements for such. This would allow the Commission to have a role in enforcement. Ultimately, it would rest on the federal judge’s decision, but including this is vital to maximizing public confidence in the process. I was successful in inserting language in the ordinance.

I also was able to include selection criteria for members to include experience in mental health issues, public health and harm reduction models, and program evaluation and outcomes measurement. In addition, I moved to amend the legislation in committee, to include posting the meeting minutes on the web, for ease of public access.

The Mayor earlier issued an Executive Order creating the Commission in line with the Agreement with the federal government, and began the application process.