Meet the police departments new Director of Transparency and Privacy. Hopefully she lasts longer than the former Chief Information Officer.
Meet the Seattle Police Department's new Director of Transparency and Privacy, Mary Perry. Hopefully she lasts longer than the former Chief Information Officer. City of Seattle

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Seattle police chief Kathleen O'Toole has tapped Mary Perry, a veteran lawyer in the Seattle City Attorney's office, to be the department's new Director of Transparency and Privacy, The Stranger has learned. An official announcement could come next week.

Perry will be tasked with helping find a balance between transparency and privacy as the SDP pushes ahead with an initiative to outfit officers with bodycams and attempts to improve its public records request process.

"I hope that Mary will focus her energy on being proactive and making as much information as possible available," said Toby Nixon, the president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, "as opposed to finding new and creative ways to withhold records, which is the view a skeptic might take."

He suggested she focus on making the department's Public Disclosure Unit more accountable and transparent by implementing an online portal, similar to the City of Kirkland's, where citizens can track their requests for public information.

Last year, Perry negotiated a $30,000 settlement with the Center for Open Policing, a group of programmers and accountability activists who sued to obtain the SPD's vehicle location data after the city refused to comply with their public records request.

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"I look forward to working with her on getting the remainder of the body of OPA [misconduct] records we've been seeking," said the center's Eric Rachner, "and I hope that SPD empowers her with the budget and the staff she needs to make it happen."

Perry was also involved in SPD's widely-lauded 2014 Hackathon, where she talked about using a "redact, don't withhold" method to push out information requested by citizens while respecting privacy concerns.

Perry did not respond to a request for comment. In her new position, she'll report to SPD's top lawyer, Rebecca Boatright.

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