Monday became a day for big news.
Mayor Ed Murray today went ahead and signed an executive order to equip all Seattle patrol officers and sergeants with body cameras despite ongoing negotiations with police unions. (According to reports by The Seattle Times, those body cameras have been a major sticking point in those negotiations.) The announcement comes just a month after Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old black mother of four, was fatally shot by officers after she called police to report a burglary.
The legislation orders the department to equip West Precinct bike patrol officers with the cameras by July 22 and all West Precinct officers by September 30.
"We can no longer deprive Seattle of this important tool to create a more detailed record of what happens during critical incidences, a public record that will hold Seattle police officers accountable to their own high standards and our community’s important expectations," Murray said in a video released on Facebook.
Most previous studies—including recent ones from Cambridge University and the University of South Florida—have shown body cameras were linked to reduced community complaints and reduced use of force. A city-commissioned survey last year also showed widespread support for it in Seattle—92 percent of respondents wanted to see the policy implemented.
Just hours after Murray's executive order, Seattle council members also unanimously approved a bill that added SPD's policies on bias-free policing to the municipal code. The policies have been in place at the department since January 2015 as part of the consent decree.
The legislation today explicitly states those rules in a city chapter: Officers can't use race, ethnicity, or national origin to determine reasonable suspicion or probable cause; they must be trained on the bias-free policies; and the department must collect specific data (on Terry and traffic stops) that would help inform allegations of discriminatory policing.
Hillary Madsen, who works at Columbia Legal Services, said her clients disproportionately come from "communities the bias-free policing ordinance is designed to protect." She said she believed the bill would help address disparities and mass incarcerations.
"Everyone know that who gets stopped by police is highly problematic," Madsen said.