Yesterday, Mayor Mike McGinn assembled a crack team of national policing experts, academics, and local community leaders with a very specific goal: To identify one concrete issue that could be targeted for immediate police reform efforts—specifically in the areas of use of force, community mobilization, and police oversight.
"A consortium for a new policing paradigm!" McGinn's office labeled the "multi-jurisdictional" group in nonsensically jazzy adspeak. The group was also tasked with identifying other issues that could lay the groundwork for tougher "science-driven, evidence-based" reforms.
And at 12:30 p.m. today, the group is convening again to announce the results of their two-day brainstorm session.
Obviously, it remains to be seen whether this "consortium for a new policing paradigm" will actually net good ideas—and the reasonable mechanisms to execute those ideas—or whether we're just staring down the barrel of another garbage factory fit to rival the 20/20 policing plan. But at first blush, the group's outline has some provocative elements, or at least verbiage: A "minimum of three major initiatives... will be launched by each Consortium jurisdiction over the five-year life of the project," their proposal states.
And its local participants include familiar names from all walks of the crime-prevention spectrum, from the Downtown Seattle Association to neighborhood activists to members of the Defender's Association (but oddly enough, no one from the Seattle Human Rights Commission).
I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what shiny new reform plans this lunchtime presser brings. Fingers crossed, everyone.
UPDATE: Calling the group both "an excellent idea" and "overdue," Seattle Human Rights Commission chairman Chris Stearns responds with this diplomatic criticism: “The Mayor’s commitment to best practices is important and in that respect, it would be have been ideal for the participants to hear from both the OPA Review Board and the Human Rights Commission because both have produced police accountability reports and recommendations for structural reform based on best practices. The bottom line is that you can put a lot of effort into building new innovative policing strategies but they won’t work if the basics aren’t in place first. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Police reform has to come first.”