Seattle council members call on city to renegotiate police contract
Three Seattle City Council members issued a letter and gave public statements Monday, urging Mayor Jenny Durkan to reopen negotiations with the Seattle Police Department on its recently-passed collective bargaining agreement.
This comes following a recent decision from U.S. District Judge James Robart, who ruled that the City of Seattle had fallen partially out of compliance with a 2012 consent decree related to police accountability. He subsequently ordered the city to get back in compliance by July 15, before granting a brief extension.
“We now know from Judge Robart’s recent opinion that the City’s ratified contract with SPOG [Seattle Police Officer’s Guild] — and specifically the provisions pertaining to the accountability regime — does not meet the Court’s required standards,” a letter to Mayor Durkan from Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez, Teresa Mosqueda, and Lisa Herbold reads.
The city’s contract with SPOG was the culmination of months of contested negotiations. It was passed in November by an 8-1 margin, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant operating as the lone vote in opposition. In the lead-up to its passage, many advocacy groups had argued that it rolled back necessary measures for police accountability, related to limits placed on misconduct investigations.
Just a week after it was passed, it was immediately called into question by Robart, when an arbitration board overturned the decision of the former SPD chief to fire an officer who punched a woman in handcuffs.
Now, Gonzalez, Mosqueda, and Herbold are calling for negotiations to reopen.
“I believe good officers want to be held to higher standards, and I also believe the good officers want the bad officers to be held accountable,” Councilmember Gonzalez said in a Monday news conference. “This is to our mutual benefit.”
The head of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild has already agreed to meet with Gonzalez, but it’s unclear at this time whether that’s related to negotiating a new contract.
The consent decree was originally passed in 2012 — led by then-U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan — after a DOJ investigation “found a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.” The decree now operates as a means to eliminate unconstitutional policing.
Once the City proves it’s back in compliance with the decree, it will have to maintain that status for two full years before it can be terminated.