Good news! We asked yesterday: Will a federal judge allow the city to enact much-needed, sweeping police reforms meant to address racial bias and excessive force?
After sitting on a request from the city and Department of Justice for one month, federal judge James Robart today granted the city's request to move forward with its own law to finally upgrade the accountability system, instead of leaving it in limbo for many more months
With one big caveat: Rather than have the Seattle City Council consider a proposed piece of legislation and then give it to the federal judge for feedback, Robart has ordered that he be given the chance to vet the proposed bill first. He writes:
The court has no desire to waste the time of City Council Members who might be placed in the position of considering, debating, and passing proposed legislation that the court ultimately finds is inconsistent with the terms or purpose of the Consent Decree.
Bottom line?* The ball is back in the city's court, where it should be, ahead of next Monday's big hearing.
UPDATE: The Community Police Commission is not especially pleased. Its response:
The City’s police accountability reform efforts have been in a holding pattern for a year. Although we appreciate that the order allows the city to start moving again, we are now looking at a long-drawn-out process that has no realistic chance of producing legislative results until 2017, at the earliest. By then it will have been five years since the consent decree and three years since the CPC’s original accountability recommendations. As 47 community leaders noted in a 2015 letter to the Court Monitor in support of the CPC’s recommendations, time is of the essence. We don’t see that urgency reflected in this order.
Notwithstanding our concerns, the CPC of course stands ready, willing, and able to work with the Mayor and the City Council to ensure that Seattle achieves meaningful accountability reform.
*It's also worth noting that the Community Police Commission, which has been pushing for approval of the reforms, spoke out in its plainest, most forceful language yet late yesterday, announcing it would broadcast its Wednesday meeting on Facebook Live at 11:30 a.m. because, in its view, "the Monitor submitted to the court police accountability recommendations that—if approved by the federal judge—would circumvent the legislative process and therefore the community’s voice."