City Hall

Police, McGinn Propose "20/20" Plan for Police Reform

By Erica C. Barnett March 29, 2012

Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Police Department announced a set of 20 police reforms SPD plans to implement within 20 months, dubbed the "20/20" plan, this morning.

The reforms are broken down into five areas---protecting constitutional rights; "training for Seattle's values"; earning public trust; using data-driven practices; and partnering with the public.

The proposal comes in response to a Department of Justice report finding significant problems with SPD's training and policies after several controversial use-of-force incidents in the past year. The report found that the department violated people's constitutional rights in one out of every five use-of-force incidents and called SPD's accountability system "broken."

The report, which also found that the department’s internal investigation unit, the Office of Professional Accountability, improperly handled and investigated two-thirds of citizen complaints, demanded that SPD adopt new use-of-force standards; create new rules for the use of Tasers and pepper spray; to overhaul the OPA; and come up with stricter guidelines for tracking use-of-force incidents, among many other recommendations. Controversially, the DOJ report also called for a court-enforced "consent decree" with the city. The DOJ is expected to issue a set of specific proposed recommendations soon.

"The reforms described in this document go far beyond the reforms suggested in the DOJ report," McGinn said. "We are committed to completing all of these initiatives in the next 20 months, whether or not they are included in the consent decree."

Many of the DOJ's recommendations are incorporated into today's proposal, including new use-of-force training, training on de-escalation; training to deal with people who are mentally ill or under the influence of drugs and alcohol; and improving police oversight and accountability by the OPA.

McGinn said today that his proposal wasn't exclusively in response to the impending DOJ proposal. "We're expecting at some point to get a proposal from the DOJ, but this set of requirements is not written solely to respond to that. It's written to respond to public safety concerns … concerns of community leaders … and concerns i've heard from officers, too. We will negotiate in good faith with the DOJ to come up with a mutually agreeable proposal."

According to the Seattle Times, a panel made up of city council members, the mayor, and police representatives appointed to come up with a unified response to the DOJ report has fallen apart, although a meeting between the city and DOJ scheduled for Friday is still apparently on. Three city council members signed a letter this morning expressing their disappointment that the city could not come up with a unified strategy to addressing the concerns in the report.

Unanswered questions about McGinn's proposal include how much the reforms would cost (McGinn said he didn't know), and which of the proposals would be subject to collective bargaining with the police union, the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
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