City Attorney warns McGinn’s actions threaten ‘dire consequences’ in DOJ probe

Jul 17, 2012, 4:34 AM | Updated: 10:02 am
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes warns Mayor Mike McGinn's handling of a DOJ investigation into police violence and bias is leading to a costly lawsuit and other problems. (My Northwest file photo)

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has sent a stern
warning to Mayor Mike McGinn about the way McGinn’s office
is handling police reforms with the Department of Justice.

Holmes says the strategy of trying to negotiate has put
the city “on the verge of a civil-rights lawsuit that
could have dire consequences,” according to The Seattle

In the letter sent Friday and obtained by the Times,
Holmes admonishes the mayor’s office for relying “too
heavily” on the police department to craft an official
response to the DOJ report finding a pattern of
unnecessary force and racially biased policing by Seattle

The confidential letter warns the city has put too much
attention on trying to paint the SPD as a victim and the
DOJ as “a ‘bully’ seeking to impose a ‘shadow chief’ at an
unverified, speculative cost.”

Holmes said he does not see a need to replace Police Chief
John Diaz as part of a settlement, saying he might be
“precisely the individual” to carry out reforms.

The letter also criticizes the SPD’s “20/20” reform plan
touted by the mayor as an alternative to the sweeping
changes proposed by the DOJ, saying it “lacks both
substance and accountability, even in its implementation.”

In a written statement, McGinn’s spokesman Aaron Pickus
declined to comment specifically on the letter.

“We are
negotiating in good faith to achieve the goals of lasting
reforms and effective policing, with an awareness of our
budget constraints. These negotiations are ongoing.”

Holmes declined to comment. In the letter, he warned the
city is at “critical juncture” in talks with the DOJ and
if mediation fails, the city “will face costly,
and risky litigation with the federal government.”

Holmes reportedly sent the letter after the mayor’s office
rejected his suggestion to bring several city council
members back into the negotiations.

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City Attorney warns McGinn’s actions threaten ‘dire consequences’ in DOJ probe