MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Mayor Harrell announces new SPD agreement with more civilian involvement, higher wages

Apr 29, 2024, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:05 pm

Photo: Seattle police department vehicle...

Seattle police department vehicle (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has shared details of a new agreement between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The proposal focuses on officer retention, civilian involvement and misconduct investigations.

“Our highest priority is a safe and healthy Seattle and this tentative agreement is a shared commitment with our police officers to continue strengthening public safety,” Harrell said in a news release on Tuesday.

Harrell believes increasing wages will make SPD more competitive with other police departments. The agreement states pay would increase by 1.3% retroactive to 2021, 6.4% retroactive to 2022 and 15.3% retroactive to 2023.

Changing timeline for officer misconduct investigations

The agreement would also require an arbitrator in discipline appeals when misconduct is found to give deference to the decision imposed by the police chief. Additionally, it would put rules in place to prevent “shopping” for arbitrators which may impact the decision.

It would also change the timeline of investigations into alleged officer misconduct by tolling the 180-day timeline for criminal proceedings and extending the timeline following a Force Review Board referral for the most serious cases.

The agreement would also eliminate the required 5-day notice to officers of misconduct with the goal of speeding up the administrative process.

Civilians would be significantly more involved with SPD

One major change would be the use of more civilian resources in general.

Harrell wants to add two more civilians to oversee investigations in the Office of Police Accountability, bringing the total to seven.

Civilians would be able to help with public safety calls like responding to lost or missing property, requests for transportation and emergency food and shelter requests. Also, property damage calls, noise complaints, delivering messages and performing mail runs. Civilians would also be in charge of landlord/tenant issues. They would also support missing teens, runaways and missing adults, along with conducting wellness checks and acting as hospital guards for low-level offenders.

Civilians would also be able to review automated traffic camera tickets related to traffic signals, rail crossing, speeding, traffic obstructions, blocking intersections or crosswalks, transit-only lanes and stopping or traveling in restricted lanes.

More civilians would also be involved in helping detective units with administrative tasks, case file preparation and crime analysis.

While the agreement is moving on, Harrell states the proposal is a “partial” agreement and only covers the first three years of a four-year contract.

The city also said 2024 negotiations are still ongoing with the help of a mediator appointed by the Public Employment Relations Commission.

“Approving this contract is an important step in remediating the permissive public safety environment our city has endured for years,” Council member Bob Kettle (District 7, Downtown to Magnolia) and the council’s Public Safety Committee Chair said in the news release. “There’s no way to address Seattleites’ concerns about their well-being and safety without fully staffing our police department and recruiting the number of officers we need is impossible without paying them a competitive wage. This contract ensures that the city will be paying our officers a competitive wage within the state of Washington, particularly our three-county area, which is long overdue.”

Legislation regarding the agreement is headed to the Seattle City Council for approval following its ratification, earlier this month, by the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Mayor Harrell announces new SPD agreement with more civilian involvement, higher wages