C.R. Douglas at Q13 has the story:
City Attorney Pete Holmes, who is the legal point person for the city in communications with the DOJ, sent an explosive letter to the mayor and city council late Friday with the DOJ’s demand... “Litigation itself will be costly in dollars, morale, public safety, and public relations; a loss paves the way for a federally-monitored reform plan with little or no City input.”
Mayor Mike McGinn, who oversees the negotiations with federal prosecutors, has essentially been playing chicken with the feds. He's acted as if the DOJ would never put its foot down. And he's been appeasing the right-wing police union as he drags his feet. All the while, his "20/20 police reform" plan is three months old, has 0 percent complete, and hasn't had a status update on the city's website since May.
So McGinn can play chicken with the feds. But he's gonna lose. In one scenario, we'll spend millions on litigation and "win," meaning we don't have to fix our troubled police department. But that's still a loss for the city. In another scenario, we'll spend millions on litigation and "lose." In that case, Seattle will have both lost the opportunity to reform our police department ourselves while we're also paying for years of federal oversight.
I hate to say it, but if the mayor can't reach a reasonable settlement, we should get sued. The DOJ has compiled a compelling case that our police use excessive force, show a concerning trend of racial bias, and have a bad case of distrust from citizens. The city's feckless handling of this issue—the mayor and the council are both to blame—proves the problem is so deeply engrained that we're incapable of reform until the feds take us by the hands and march us to our bedrooms for a spanking.