In a last-minute tantrum, Kevin Stuckey, the Community Police Commission's representative from the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), threatened to quit the commission this morning unless it backed off on its stated plan to bypass the mayor's office on police reform legislation.
By the end of a meeting that included several pointed exchanges, Stuckey and the mayor's office had gotten their way. The CPC approved two motions pledging to consult with SPOG and with the mayor's office, respectively, in order to try to achieve a consensus package by Monday. If that doesn't happen, the CPC may continue to go it alone. (The department's federal monitor, Merrick Bobb, wrote to Council Member Bruce Harrell this morning asking him to delay taking up the legislation, according to the Seattle Times.)
"I can't be associated with this," Stuckey said after he arrived—late—to this morning's meeting. "I'm very seriously thinking about letting someone else take the role [on the CPC], because I want to do something else with my career. There are some people who think that this move with this legislation is union busting. And I can't be a part of that. The relationship with me will probably end."
Stuckey claimed SPOG is "famous" for collaborating with other bodies involved in the reform process. The move by the CPC to go it alone, he said, "kind of puts a grenade in the middle of the table... The accountability recommendations, I don't have a problem with. It's the process... In order to have police reform, you have to have buy in. The way this is done is going to damage relationships."
Stuckey is the co-chair of the commission's accountability workgroup, but he'd missed an important series of meetings leading up to the CPC's decision to bypass the mayor. "I take full responsibility," he acknowledged when another commission member complained that he didn't bring his problems to the commission months ago. "That's on me."
He also acknowledged that SPOG President Ron Smith had a courtesy copy of the CPC's proposed legislation, but hadn't shared it with him.
Intimating that Stuckey isn't the only one with skin in the game, Youthcare Executive Director Melinda Giovengo told the police union rep: "This is a very difficult commission to sit on as an executive director of a nonprofit, who gets their bread buttered by the mayor."
Stuckey went on to argue that everything in the CPC's reform package could be subject to ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between the city and SPOG—even though the CPC's proposals specifically call out which of its recommendations are not included in its proposed ordinance, pending the outcome of labor negotiations.
Stuckey wasn't the only one pushing to delay the CPC's new strategy. Earlier in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas pleaded with the commission to hold off on taking its accountability reform package to the council and, instead, to jointly introduce an ordinance with the mayor.
The whole dustup threatens to derail a reform process that officials are billing as nation-leading. "This is not just about Seattle," the police department's lawyer, Brian Maxey, told the commissioners. "It's about the rest of the country and a complete paradigm shift in policing. And right now SPD is leading the charge in many of those areas and I think this commission is helping us do that."
The ACLU's Jennifer Shaw, another commissioner, described a nationwide trend of setting up Community Police Commissions in cities where departments are under pressure to reform, including, most recently, in Cleveland. "This is the trend," she said. "This is what's happening now."
"I would hate to see you walk away," she said to Stuckey. But, Shaw also pointed out: "We'll be here until 2020 if we're going to have to keep changing everything for everybody."