Mayor Mike McGinn
At a press conference this afternoon, and amid plenty of high-fives and backslapping, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle Police Department Chief John Diaz, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes discussed the agreements reached between the Department to Justice and the city of Seattle, designed to address the Seattle Police Department's use of force procedures and concerns over biased policing.
Mayor Mike McGinn
Specifically, a Memorandum of Understanding and a Settlement Agreement and Stipulated Order of Resolution, to be overseen by the court and a monitor, have been hashed out. Durkan says she expects the two agreements will act as a comprehensive blueprint for policing for next generation, and "make very strong department even stronger."
"Today is a day to discuss how will move forward into the future, together," said Perez. "Today the real work begins."
In crafting the agreements, Durkan said all sides have been focused on "one thing and one thing alone: What was the right course for the city of Seattle?"
"We all think we got it right," Durkan told the gathered media throng. "This agreement will bring meaningful, measured, and durable changes to the police department."
Saying, "This solution is a Seattle solution," Durkan highlighted key elements of the plan, including a revision of SPD's use-of-force policies and addressing biased policing and police stops through revised policies and supervision.
Speaking for the DOJ, Perez noted three goals in crafting the settlement: reducing crime, ensuring respect for the constitution and constitutional policing, and enhancing public confidence in the police department. He said those three goals are "embodied in this settlement."
McGinn harkened back to his stated goals from the start of negotiations: creating effective reform, maintain the ability to deal with existing and emerging public safety needs, and meeting the city's budget constraints. McGinn told those gathered that he believes the agreements manage to do all of above, though no specifics on the agreement's cost were provided.
Perez also stressed at least twice that the monitor created in the settlement will not supplant the role of Diaz as Seattle's police chief. He said the agreement was designed to make sure SPD has the proper policies in place and the proper training to do its job, in line with the constitution.
"Diaz is still in charge today," said Perez.
"Long after the agreement has ended, constitutional policing will endure," said Perez.
"We needed to make sure we weren't in some sort of endless loop with the monitor," said McGinn, expressing the concerns he took into negotiations. The mayor said he believes the process was able to find "a middle path."
Here's a summary of the agreement, provided today to the media and public, followed by the complete MOU and settlement:
A special commission to evaluate the Seattle Police Department - appropriately titled the Community Police Commission, and to be appointed by Mayor McGinn - plays a large role in the deal struck between the DOJ and Seattle. Among other things, the commission will be tasked with addressing the somewhat vague yet highly troubling allegations of biased policing, along with monitoring SPD's use-of-force policies and internal investigation procedures. The commission was apparently McGinn's idea. Perez called it "a signature component" of the agreement, and said it's something he expects other cities to model in the future.
The new commission, which will include community representatives and a member of the police department, will report its findings to a court-appointed monitor who will guide the Police Department as it carries out the reform plan, one source said. The monitor has yet to be selected.
Specific to the task of dealing with bias, which the mayor said impacts "all aspects of our life," McGinn referenced his own multicultural family and said he's dedicated to dealing with the problem. McGinn called bias "one of the most difficult and challenging issues we face in multicultural city and nation."
"This city is committed to eliminating bias," said McGinn. "It takes the commitment of the entire community and it take shared conversations."
Those conversations, apparently, will now be fostered through the newly-created commission.
"How do we police in a way that every individual is treated with dignity and respect?" said McGinn. "We needed a forum where we could have those tough conversations."
The consent decree included in the agreement also includes a clear definition of constitutes the use of force, with a source telling the Times earlier today four levels are included, covering minimal physical contact to deadly force. Originally, according to one Times' source, the city proposed defining the use of force as a "response to resistance," but that suggestion was apparently nixed.
Here's the timeline for implementation of the agreement provided today by officials from Seattle, the U.S. District Attorney's Office and the DOJ:
Timeline moving forward, beginning upon the adoption of the agreements by the court:
• 60 days: Monitor chosen jointly by City and DOJ
• 60 days: SPD develops a schedule to prioritize development and implementation of policies
• 90 days: Mayor issues Executive Order to create Community Policing Commission
• Three years: Expected term of the Memorandum of Understanding,
• Five years: Expected term of Settlement Agreement, although the City may petition the court to end agreement earlier if there have been two years of compliance.
The City and the DOJ anticipate that SPD will be in full compliance with the agreement within five years. The City may ask the court to terminate the agreement prior to that date if the City and SPD have been in full and effective compliance with the agreement for two years.
Of course, the negotiation process to get to this point was a long and at times contentious one - a fact noted by nearly everyone who took to the podium at city hall this afternoon.
"It's no secret there were a few bumps in the road to get here," said a chuckling McGinn.
"We in Seattle love our process and love heated debate," noted Durkan. "One thing we never do is lose sight of our common goals, common values, and common inspirations. ... Once we finally do reach consensus we look forward and we move forward."
"We have years of implementation work ahead of us," said McGinn of what comes next. "It's critical that we get this right."
Find our original post announcing the agreement on the following page ...
PREVIOUS POST: As had been expected by the Seattle Times, officials with the city of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice will announce today what's being called a "comprehensive reform plan" intended to address the findings of last year's DOJ report that concluded Seattle police regularly resort to excessive force , and included non-conclusive yet still troubling evidence of biased policing. A press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m.
In what has been an ongoing storyline for most of the spring and summer, city of Seattle officials, led by Mayor McGinn, have been engaged in tense and sometimes contentious negotiations with the DOJ over how to respond to the DOJ's report. However, mere days before a July 31 deadline, by which the DOJ had threatened to file a lawsuit if no accord was reached, it seems the two sides have found common ground to build from.
According to the Times:
Central to the deal will be a court-appointed monitor, to be picked in the next 60 days, according to sources. The monitor will guide the department in adopting the consent decree and report to a federal judge who will oversee it.
The judge can be called upon to resolve disputes or order changes if the Police Department or city balks -- not unlike agreements reached with Los Angeles and, this week, the New Orleans Police Department.
A mayoral advisory commission on police affairs will be created, according to the Times' sources. The federal judge overseeing the consent decree is expected to get updates on the progress of the consent decrees implementation over the next several years. The Times reports this federal judge will utilize court orders if necessary to make sure things go as planned.
U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle Police Department Chief John Diaz, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes are scheduled to be involved in today's briefing, with the Times reporting consent decree expected to be officially filed in U.S. District Court at some point today as well (at least if things play out as they have in other cities facing similar situations).
We will update this post throughout the day as more information becomes available from the afternoon presser.
UPDATE: You can watch the 3 p.m. press conference below.