Jay Hollingsworth with John T. Williams Organizing Coalition says Robart's ruling supports CPC findings on police accountability.
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Jay Hollingsworth with John T. Williams Organizing Coalition says Robart's ruling supports CPC findings on police accountability.
Credit: KUOW/Amy Radil

'Close the deal' on police accountability, community groups tell Seattle mayor

Community groups are pressing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for prompt action to make changes to the police accountability system found lacking by a federal judge.

In May, Judge James Robart found that the Seattle Police Department’s accountability system does not comply with a federal consent decree for constitutional policing. He ordered the parties to tell him how they will assess and fix the problem.

Aaron Williams of United Black Clergy said, “Those were his orders, for us to work together and to come back on July 15 in unity.” Williams said. “I’m asking that the City Attorney, SPOG, and most importantly Mayor Durkan would close the deal on police accountability.”

In a statement Durkan’s office said, “The mayor has already had productive conversations and meetings with the CPC, OPA, OIG and Monitor to do a robust review of the entire accountability regime to ensure lasting reform and to strengthen and maintain public trust in our department.”

But two dozen community groups say the city should draw on the recommendations of the Community Police Commission – and the accountability law passed in 2017 but which the police contract “supersedes” — rather than starting from scratch.

Reverend Harriett Walden with Mothers for Police Accountability says all the stakeholders need to get involved.

“But what we need the most is the mayor to work in good faith,” she said. “We’re not starting over,” she emphasized.

Former CPC co-chair Diane Narasaki said she was "very alarmed” at the lack of progress since the judge’s order was issued. She said the conversation should begin with the CPC’s existing recommendations.

“We already have an extensive, detailed analysis of how the police contracts fall short of accountability requirements,” she said.

The judge’s ruling means the federal court could extend its oversight over the Seattle Police Department, which was supposed to end after this year.