November 7, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 45

News

City Council creates permanent community panel to oversee police

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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The newly created Seattle Community Police Commission will have 15 members, access to police department records and the ability to testify before the federal judge who is overseeing reform of the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

The commission, which will be permanent, will also have a dedicated city staff member and the ability to issue public reports.

The settlement between the city and the Department of Justice (DOJ)originally called for the community panel to last only for the duration of the settlement, but the city council instead decided it should be permanent.

The Seattle City Council created the Commission Oct. 22 under the direction of a court-ordered settlement between the city of Seattle and the DOJ. In December 2011, the DOJ released a report showing that the SPD has a pattern and practice of excessive force.

The commission offers community members a voice in the ongoing reforms that have, thus far, been in the hands of Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle Police Department and federal attorneys.

The city council worked with members of the Multiracial Task Force on Police Accountability to create the commission.

The city council initially proposed an 11-person board, with two members coming from the police department, but at the request of those seeking greater diversity on the commission, the council agreed to expand it.

The city is taking applications for commission candidates at seattle.gov/policecommission until Nov. 21. More than 40 community members have already applied.

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