December 12, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 50


SPD reform panel will start by the end of the year

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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The court-ordered reform of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) begins in earnest Dec. 31.

That’s the deadline Federal District Judge James Robart set for SPD to submit a schedule for reforming its policies, procedures and trainings over the next three years.

The newly appointed monitor, Merrick Bobb, will hold the first bi-monthly meeting with city and police officials to discuss the progress of reforms before year’s end.

The reforms follow a Dec. 2011 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that the department has a pattern and practice of excessive force.

The city and DOJ reached a settlement agreement to reform the police department and resolve the concerns in the report by 2015.

At the end of November, United States District Judge James Robart appointed Bobb as the independent monitor to assess SPD’s progress over the next three years. Bobb is the executive director of the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) and previously worked on monitoring and reforming the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz opposed the selection of Bobb initially because PARC helped the DOJ write last year’s report on SPD. After the Seattle City Council voted in favor of Bobb in October with an 8-to-1 vote, McGinn relented.

The city approved an $880,000 budget for the first year of work by Bobb’s 14-member monitoring team. Most of that cost will pay for Bobb, four other PARC staff members and nine part-time consultants, including the deputy monitor, Seattle attorney Peter Erhlichman.

The team will conduct a $45,000 survey at the beginning of the year to poll opinions and attitudes within the community and SPD about various policing issues.

Bobb will present a monitoring plan to Robart by Feb. 27, 2013.

Bobb will also submit a progress report to Robart by April 30, 2013. He’ll continue submitting public reports to the judge every six months throughout the process.



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