Council member Debora Juarez is pushing the Community Police Commission to have its commissioners—who would help find officials for new police accountability offices—be geographic representatives. It would be an amendment to the city's ordinance to address a 2012 federally mandated consent decree to curb police excessive use of force and bias.
Discussion last week in the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee—the fourth meeting on the ordinance—introduced new changes to the ordinance but excluded Juarez's request to have district representatives as commissioners, Juarez said. She said the argument that it would limit the pool of qualified applicants for the commissioners is an "unfair" assumption and leaves out "huge swaths of society."
"District representation enhances and promotes the very principles of the MOU, the consent decree, and I think the purpose of the Community Police Commission, and that is the community," Juarez said. "District representation is the law of the land and that’s where we’re at."
Enrique Gonzalez, cochair of the Community Police Commission, said it was important to provide flexibility among commissioners to ensure communities are represented, given that "the demographics of the city continue to shift"—for example, allowing more than one commissioner from an area that's had a lot more police instances. Geographic representation can be part of a candidate's overall qualifications, he said.
"I think it's important to understand that we have to be flexible to give room for that type of representation to come forward because that's a voice that needs to be heard," Gonzalez said. "We just in our experience have felt that it's necessary to try to incorporate all voices through qualifications."
In 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice and Seattle entered into a memorandum of understanding through settlement negotiations for police accountability. A proposed ordinance creating the Community Police Commission also implements an Office of the Inspector General and Office of Police Accountability, which together is estimated to cost the city about $1.1 million to $1.2 million, according to the fiscal note. The CPC also has a budget of $880,000 this year.
New amendments to the ordinance propose that the 15 commissioners—five appointed by the mayor, five appointed by Seattle City Council, and five by the CPC. The commissioners and one CPC cochair would be on the search committees for the inspectors general and OPA directors.
Council members will vote on the ordinance implementing the Community Police Commission when it gets out of committee.