Kathryn Olson, director of the Seattle Police Department's internal division that handles discipline for officers accused of misconduct, was appointed to a three-year term in May 2007. Which means, of course, that her term ended last May
. But lacking a reappointment from the mayor, the city has continued to dole out Olson's annual $146,467 salary to review cases of alleged misconduct and make recommendations to the police chief.
Switching leadership at the Office of Professional Accountability, particularly given the last year's events, could signal a shift in the department's discipline. Sticking with Olson would serve as a sign Mayor Mike McGinn and the council, which would need to reconfirm her appointment, are happy with the way things are.
Rather than decide, however, McGinn has simply deferred.
Asked if he is considering someone else for the job, McGinn said, “We have contemplated how we are going to approach that position and what we are going to do next." Asked if he was committed to sticking with Olson, he said, “When we send down a reappointment we mean it. Until then, she’s in an interim capacity.”
“I have deliberative decision-making style, and when you make a personnel decision, you live with it for a while," McGinn said. "So we are prepared to do it right." McGinn picked a new chief last year and said he wants to "take a little longer for the other changes to settle."
While data is not yet compiled for last year, Olson says that in 2009, OPA closed 198 cases involving 390 allegations of misconduct. Twelve percent (of the 198 cases) were sustained and there was some sort of non-disciplinary training for another 12 percent of the allegations.
Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess says he contacted McGinn’s office in December to remind him that the term had lapsed.