Seattle Police contract goes to federal judge, what happens next?
Seattle Police Officers finally got a new contract, and next, it faces a review from a federal judge.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild had been without a contract for four years up until Monday. Now that its long-awaited contract has been approved by the city council, it will face the scrutiny of a federal judge, who will seek to determine whether it adheres to a 2012 consent decree regarding constitutional policing.
The 2012 decree was part of a settlement between the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice, where the former agreed to “eliminate unconstitutional policing.” This came about following DOJ findings that claimed Seattle police were overusing excessive force, and demonstrating racial bias. It proposed expansive reform for the SPD’s use of force policies, and many opponents of the new contract argued that its passing would roll back those reforms.
Now that the contract has been approved by Seattle City Council, it’s up to U.S. District Judge James Robart to figure out how it can co-exist with the 2012 settlement.
The question moving forward: Will it negatively impact the newly-minted SPOG contract?
“Right now, my gut instinct tells me no,” SPOG president Kevin Stuckey told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.
Stuckey argued that because the 2012 settlement and subsequent consent decree was between the City of Seattle and the DOJ, it shouldn’t affect the new contract.
“Whatever the DOJ and the City of Seattle want to figure out, that’s between them — the way I see it, it has nothing to do with us,” said Stuckey.
While Judge Robart doesn’t wield control over the contract itself, he can still review its adherence to the consent decree. Stuckey remains confident, though, buoyed by support for the contract by the person who helped craft the 2012 decree in the first place.
“If there was one person in this city who should be able to tell if our contract aligns with the settlement agreement, it’s the person who negotiated the settlement agreement: Mayor Jenny Durkan.”
Durkan, a U.S. Attorney at the time, helped negotiate the settlement between the city and the DOJ, and brought the consent decree to Seattle in the first place.
Fast-forward to today, and Mayor Durkan has argued that the contract “will help sustain and advance reform,” and that it’s in line with the consent decree.
“If she says this contract aligns with that, I don’t see how anyone can say anything different,” said Stuckey.
For now, all anyone can do is wait and see.