Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn may have bowed to the DOJ, City Council and Pete Holmes yesterday in agreeing to recommend Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor tasked with overseeing Seattle police reforms under the city's agreement with the Justice Department, but that doesn't mean he thinks it was a great idea.
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Trading indignant released statements in the aftermath of yesterday's 8-1 vote by the City Council calling for Bobb's recommendation for the job, McGinn, who questions whether Bobb will be viewed as impartial by SPD, called the vote a mistake, yet vowed to "roll up his sleeves and continue to work with all stakeholders to implement reform in our police force." Meanwhile, City Councilmember Tim Burgess poignantly noted "Reform will be especially more difficult if the mayor keeps saying it will be difficult."
Bobb is a Los Angeles police consultant who has been identified as the top candidate for the police monitor job by the Justice Department, a view shared by the City Council and Holmes. Last week, buoyed by objections from Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, McGinn crapped on the idea of appointing Bobb to the gig, citing the fact a board member of his nonprofit helped write the DOJ's damning report against Seattle's police force. McGinn has said police reform in Seattle will be more difficult if SPD doesn't trust the independent monitor.
The Seattle Times describes yesterday's council vote and what happens from here:
The council's resolution, coming five days before the deadline to reach a recommendation, instructed Holmes to advise U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is presiding over the reforms, that the city agreed Bobb would be the best choice in accordance with the Justice Department's support of him.
Bobb, if appointed by Robart, would oversee the city's July settlement agreement with federal attorneys, which calls for changes to curb unnecessary force and address discriminatory policing.
According to the Times, Robart has said he wants to conduct his own interview of Bobb and plans to make a final decision on whether to accept the recommendation by Nov. 12.
Here's Mayor McGinn's statement on yesterday's developments, taken from the Times:
"We know from the experience of other cities that reform efforts are successful when the police force buys in to the effort. Our office and others expressed concerns that Mr. Bobb would not be seen as an impartial monitor. ... "
"We are disappointed that the Council did not listen to those concerns and that our reform efforts may prove more difficult as a result of their vote," the statement added. "We believe that their vote was a mistake, but respect that this is now the City's position. Going forward, the mayor will roll up his sleeves and continue to work with all stakeholders to implement reform in our police force."