Seattle City Council Approves Controversial Police Contract Following Contentious Meeting
UPDATE, 5:10 p.m. Tuesday: The Seattle City Council voted 8-1 to approve the new police contract, following a contentious meeting with a packed council chambers.
The Seattle City Council passes in an 8 to 1 vote Council Bill 119368, an ordinance authorizing the execution of a collective bargaining agreement between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officers Guild.— Seattle City Council (@SeattleCouncil) November 14, 2018
Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the lone opponent. She announced well before the vote that she would reject the proposal.
I will vote NO on the police contract today. As a union member, I support the wage increases (it's unfortunate that other public service workers like educators & EMTs haven't got such significant raises). But I'm deeply troubled by police accountability rollback in the agreement. pic.twitter.com/ekpOJ2BVm0— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) November 13, 2018
"This agreement allows us to move forward with a level of certainty that will put the Seattle Police Department and Chief Carmen Best in the best position to improve public safety, hire and deploy more patrol officers, and advance police reforms," said Council President Bruce Harrell, chair of the Labor Relations and Policy Committee. "Most importantly, the new contract ensures full implementation of body worn cameras by front-line police officers. I believe this is the ultimate tool for police accountability, public safety, and as a training tool to improve policing performance."
Former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver says she supports the collective bargaining process, but not its result. "This contract flies in the face of the work that communities have been doing for years to acheive police accountability," Oliver said. "Voting for this contract will dismantle the work that we've been doing for years."
Councilmember Lisa Herbold said she would vote for the contract "regretfully" to help shore up staffing.
A judge is expected to rule soon on whether the terms of the contract satisfy the federal consent decree that applies to the police department.
ORIGINAL POST: The Seattle City Council votes today on a new contract for police officers, who haven't received pay increases since their previous contract expired four years ago. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is advocating for approval of the proposal, which includes a boost in pay retroactive to 2015. But it's facing pushback ahead of the decision.
The controversy centers on the contract's provisions dealing with police accountability. The Community Police Commission is urging council members to vote against the proposal; the group says it gives up some important reforms.
The latter is key, since the Seattle Police Department has been operating under a court order to improve law enforcement tactics. The ruling came after the federal Department of Justice found evidence of biased policing and excessive use of force by SPD officers.
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who has been overseeing the court order, says he'll consider whether the contract follows the "spirit and purpose" of the order.