Police monitor to present plan to judge, police unions ask for an injunction

Mar 11, 2013

The Seattle Police Department needs to hire more sergeants to work closely with rank-and-file officers. That’s the view of an independent monitor, Merrick Bobb, who's looking into excessive use of force. He'll present his monitoring plan to a federal judge tomorrow for approval.

One new hurdle has cropped up: The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild and the association representing lieutenants and captains have asked a King County judge for an injunction against the monitoring plan. They want to make sure that any changes the monitor proposes that affect their working conditions will be subject to bargaining.  

The city of Seattle and the police department agreed to make big changes last year in a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. That came after the Justice Department investigated and said it believed some Seattle police officers were using too much force.

Bobb is supposed to track how well the department and the city are complying. He told the Seattle City Council one improvement the department can make is to hire more sergeants.

"The sergeant is the one that gives direction, that mentors, that takes the young recruit out of the academy and helps turn that recruit into a fine police officer," Bobb said.

Bobb also said there needs to be an early intervention system to identify officers who are getting more complaints or using more force so that tragedies can be prevented.

Bobb says overall, the city and the police department have been cooperating with him. In recent weeks, Mayor Mike McGinn and city attorney Pete Holmes sparred over who’s in charge of negotiating with the monitor. Bobb says that’s been smoothed over and he’s hopeful collaboration will continue.