Mike McGinn
What exactly is a Shadow Chief? According to a report from the Seattle Times this morning, if the U.S. Department of Justice and


U.S. Department of Justice Reportedly Wants a 'Shadow Chief' to Help Fix SPD

Mike McGinn
What exactly is a Shadow Chief? According to a report from the Seattle Times this morning, if the U.S. Department of Justice and federal attorneys have their way, the Seattle Police Department may soon know the answer to that question.

As you'll recall, the Department of Justice came down hard on SPD last December, determining through an investigation that Seattle cops have made a habit out of using illegal and excessive force, particularly against minorities or the impaired. The City now faces a deadline of next Wednesday to respond to the suggested fixes to SPD's woes handed down by the Department of Justice in late March, a list that, according to the Times, includes what's described as a "shadow chief" who "would answer only to a federal judge overseeing the agreement."

There has been no indication from McGinn or the city at this point about whether such oversight is agreeable to them.

Sources - speaking on the condition of anonymity because the proposed fixes for SPD and the ongoing negations are supposed to be super-duper secret - tell the Times that the feds "insist on a mutually agreed-upon consent decree that would spell out the changes and provide a timetable," according to today's story. They've threatened to file a lawsuit in June if no such agreement is reached.

The Times explains some of the suggested changes:

The proposed consent decree also calls on the department to increase the number of sergeants, the department's first-line supervisors, to a ratio of one sergeant for every six officers. With the current ratio at roughly one to eight, the change would likely require the city to hire more police to fill the ranks.

And ...

Among the other key changes, the sources said, would be a significant expansion of the power of the independent outside auditor who reviews the work of the Police Department's internal-investigation section, the Office of Professional Accountability. The move would add major costs by providing the auditor with staff.

The Justice Department is also asking police for clear protocols on the use of force, including a policy barring officers from striking suspects in the head with their fists, flashlights or batons except in instances when they believe deadly force is necessary, sources say.

The Times reports McGinn is "deeply concerned" about the potential price tag of making the Justice Department's suggestions a reality. Other suggested SPD changes are said to include a stricter policy for promoting officers with significant discipline histories, including barring officers with serious misconduct findings from advancement.

For its part, the SPD has been busy working on the implementation of the "SPD 20/20 Plan: A Vision for the Future" - a collection of 20 initiatives announced in late March to be executed in 20 months and designed to address many of the concerns originally raised by the Justice Department. McGinn has classified the 20/20 plan as steps that can be taken within Seattle's current budget, which, like seemingly all budgets these days, is hurting.

Today McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz held a press conference to introduce a new 34-member team tasked with making the 20/20 plan a reality - a team led by led by Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford and broken down by initiative, with different officers taking the leadership reins on each of the 20 stated goals. A new website was also introduced where the public can track how well SPD is doing at bringing the 20/20 plan to life.

Find the full press release regarding today's 20/20 press conference after the jump.

A press release issued today regarding Mayor McGinn's 20/20 press conference held this morning:

Mayor, Chief introduce public to 20/20 team

Meet the team that will transform the Seattle Police Department

SEATTLE - Today Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz introduced to the public a new team of Seattle police officers who will lead the implementation of our SPD 20/20 Plan: A Vision for the Future.

The new team consists of 34 members, led by Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford, and is broken up by initiative, with individual officers taking on leadership on each of the 20 initiatives that make up SPD 20/20.

"We have put in place a cohesive team of leaders who live by Seattle's values every day, and demonstrate excellence to their peers" said Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford. "The team members charged with implementing the 20 initiatives come from every unit and every precinct in SPD. Their experience and established relationships in the department will enable them to lead this effort from the ground up."

"This is an unprecedented commitment to reform," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "To transform a large organization, you need leadership from within and by example. These officers are some of the best and brightest that SPD has to offer, and their values of customer service, respect for individual rights and collaboration with the community will lead the way to a new era for SPD."

The mayor also announced a new website that will enable the public to track the implementation of the 20/20 Plan. The website, found at, will be updated weekly with new information, and includes a tool that shows our progress on each individual initiative and milestone, as well as our progress overall.

The mayor also outlined our other transparency efforts, including a weekly email bulletin updating the public on our progress (sign up at and the SPD 20/20 Speaker's Bureau. The Speaker's Bureau is a team of experts drawn from SPD officers and the mayor's office who are available upon request to deliver presentations on 20/20 progress to community groups. The presentation will be constantly updated as new information on 20/20 implementation becomes available.

"We encourage the public to hold us accountable for our progress" said Mayor McGinn. "Keep an eye on our 20/20 tracking website, sign up for our weekly bulletin on 20/20 progress, and if you have questions, sign up for our Speaker's Bureau so we can come out to your community group to answer questions and address concerns face-to-face."

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