Seattle City Council passes legislation strengthening police accountability

Herbold legislation will create clear and fair standards for investigating complaints against the Chief of Police

The Seattle City Council passed legislation today sponsored by Lisa Herbold (District 1 – Chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee) to strengthen Seattle’s police accountability system by creating clear and fair standards for investigating complaints made against the chief of police.  

The 2017 Accountability Ordinance did not address how complaints against the Chief of Police Should be handled. This led to a lack of clarity about how to proceed with such complaints.  

“It’s important for public trust to have a clear process to resolve these types of complaints,” said Herbold. “This legislation will close gaps in Seattle’s police accountability system and ensure that these complaints get addressed through fair and thorough investigations.” 

“I was alarmed to find earlier this year that three complaints against the previous Chief of Police in 2020 lingered without being investigated until Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office forwarded them to an external agency for investigation,” Herbold continued. “Since then, I have worked with Mayor Harrell’s office, Office of Inspector General, Community Police Commission, and Office of Police Accountability to establish a clear and fair process for these investigations.” 

This legislation establishes a process for the intake, evaluation, classification, and investigation of such complaints either by a City unit or by an independent investigative body that is external to the City. That process would involve the Office of Inspector General. The legislation also requires key stakeholders and the person who made the complaint be notified at investigative milestones. It also makes clear SPD will not be involved in these investigations.

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