The Stranger Election Control Board has a feature out that tells the six folks running for mayor what we want to hear—beside promising to "lead" with a "vision" and those other meaningless soundbites they keep spouting off. To begin, here's what we want to see happen with the cops:
Building more light rail within city limits, killing the SPD drone program, funding bike lanes, putting more cops on dangerous blocks, and more of our bleeding-heart demands ARE RIGHT HERE.
Busting Balls at SPD
Promising to fire the police chief may seem brash. But under Chief John Diaz, the city required a federal intervention before it could even begin meaningful reforms to a police department with patterns of excessive force and concerning racial bias (costing millions of dollars a year in new oversight). Diaz should be fired, of course—because he is clearly not qualified—and a search should begin to replace him.
Even if saying that is too impolitic, mayoral candidates can call for four specific reforms that exceed those named in Seattle's recent court settlement with the US Department of Justice. First and easiest is demanding biennial reconfirmations of the chief by the mayor and city council so firing an impotent chief isn't as difficult in the future. Second, the mayoral candidates should vow to quickly sign a labor contract with the police union, the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, which has been working without a contract since theirs expired in 2010 (seriously). Third, in those labor negotiations, the city should remove the union president, Rich O'Neill, from the city payroll. He's still being paid as a sergeant even though he never works for the city. Under his leadership, the police union has resisted reforms, joked about pulling guns on members of the ACLU and the Urban League, and opposed the city's racial and social justice initiative. We shouldn't pay people to be part of the problem. Fourth, the department needs to be more transparent with public records. Candidates for mayor must call for SPD to quickly release dash-cam footage when requested under open records laws, quickly satisfy records requests on recent events, and post a wider variety of police reports online. These steps will show that the candidates understand how to restore public confidence in the police department.