Seattle leaders unveil plan to strengthen police accountability groups

Dec 3, 2020, 2:07 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2020, 5:25 am
Seattle police, sanctions, police tactics...
Police officers attend an injured man detained during a protest after the Nov. 3 elections. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced a new measure Thursday, which would strengthen the ability of Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of Inspector General (OIG) to issue and enforce subpoenas in officer misconduct investigations.

Report rules SPD officer didn’t intentionally pepper-spray child

The OPA and OIG operate alongside the Community Police Commission (CPC) as the three governing bodies responsible for managing law enforcement oversight in Seattle, with the OPA leading investigations any time a complaint is filed against an officer.

The investigation process often includes witness interviews, but it’s been unclear whether witnesses are legally obligated to cooperate. With more well-defined subpoena powers, the OPA and OIG will be able to seek a court order if someone fails to comply (while affording witnesses standard due process protections typically given to anyone issued a subpoena).

“This new legislation is critical to promoting public confidence in our police oversight entities and advancing police accountability,” Mayor Durkan said in a written release. “Passing this bill will set the City on better footing to pursue stronger accountability measures in our collective bargaining agenda for the next round of negotiations with (the Seattle Police Officers Guild).”

The goal from Durkan and Herbold is to strengthen the city’s police accountability processes, while following the advice of a 2019 assessment conducted by law enforcement policy consultant 21CP Solutions. That assessment pointed to “uncertainty” surrounding the OPA and OIG’s subpoena authority, and called on the city to provide additional clarity. Both organizations were first given the ability to issue subpoenas through legislation passed in 2017, but in the years since, the scope of that authority has been unclear.

Opinion: OPA reports show Seattle cops get away with despicable behavior

The updated proposal was roundly praised by OPA and OIG leaders Thursday, with Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge stating that “true oversight requires a full understanding of SPD operations — which cannot always depend on voluntary participation.”

“The subpoena authority provided to OIG and OPA in the 2017 legislation was a vital step in the right direction, but has not been fully realized,” Judge continued. “The collective effort of the Mayor, Councilmember Herbold, and the accountability partners to codify this important process continues to move Seattle’s accountability system forward.”

The legislation will first be presented in Seattle City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee on Dec. 8.

Local News

(Photo by Craig F. Walker via Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Seattle Public Schools will not change start times despite growing bus driver staffing concerns

Superintendent Brent Jones has determined Seattle Public Schools (SPS) will continue the two-tier transportation system for the 2022-23 school year.
19 hours ago
Bellevue Power Line...
Michael Simeona

Power outages impact thousands across Western Washington

Thousands of people are without power in Western Washington after strong winds knocked down trees and power lines on Wednesday.
19 hours ago
Auburn Pitbull...
Darren Dedo

Video: Police shoot dog attacking a little girl in Auburn

An Auburn girl is recovering after a vicious dog attack caught on video. According to Auburn Police, officers were dispatched to the 1800 block of C Street SE for a dog attack 11-year-old victim. Officers arrived on the scene and found the girl with bites to her left arm from an attack by two pit […]
19 hours ago
Rescuers work at the site of a plane crash on March 23, 2022 in Tengxian County, Wuzhou City, Guang...
Charlie Harger

Investigators suspect the fatal Boeing 737 airplane crash in China was intentional

The Wall Street Journal reported investigators believe someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the China Eastern Airlines jet.
19 hours ago
Tent Homeless...
MyNorthwest Staff

Edmonds doesn’t want to become next Seattle after City Council bans public camping

After weeks of delays and debates, the Edmonds City Council passed an ordinance banning camping in public spaces Tuesday evening.
19 hours ago
A student is sitting under the flowering cherry trees in spring time at the Quad of the University ...
Heather Bosch

Turbulent spring weather continues to flummox Seattleites after ‘second-wettest May on record’

After reaching 70 degrees in Seattle in April, Michalski says we haven't reached our average daytime high temperature for May, which is 67 degrees one time.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Seattle leaders unveil plan to strengthen police accountability groups