WHERE DO THEY STAND? We try to find out, even though one of these incumbents failed to respond to our questions about police accountability. (Hint: Godden.) seattle.gov

At city council candidate debates, questions about police reform usually get scripted, noncommittal answers about how trust has been eroded, cops should be more invested in their neighborhoods, and, oh, by the way, we're under a federal consent decree from the Department of Justice. No shit.

Part of this is the result of broad, vague questions from moderators. It doesn't have to be that way. With the recent news of Mayor Ed Murray's tangle with the Community Police Commission (see page 9), it's time to find out where the candidates stand on making that civilian-oversight group permanent and where they land on a few other particulars in the police-reform push.

So we put a few questions to the incumbent council members who've been thinking about police reform for years and to the candidates running against them. Plus we surveyed the people running for a citywide seat in which there's no incumbent running, since one of those people will soon be representing all of Seattle in the ongoing police-reform debates. Question number one was should Seattle's Community Police Commission (CPC) become a permanent body? The good news is that everyone who responded—incumbent Jean Godden didn't—said yes.

That's especially notable for current Council President Tim Burgess, who's running for one of the two citywide council seats and who frequently aligns with Murray, and for Council Member Bruce Harrell, who chairs the council's public-safety committee. They both answered "yes" with little or no explanation. (Burgess has received an endorsement from the Seattle Police Officers' Guild.)

John Roderick, a musician who's taking on Burgess, said, "Unless we're just paying lip service to community involvement in police reform, the CPC should be empowered." Lorena González, the former legal counsel to the mayor who's running for the other citywide council seat—the one with no incumbent in the race—calls the CPC "the voice for those affected most profoundly by excessive force and biased policing in our community." (González also has SPOG's endorsement.)

Not only should the CPC be permanent, but it needs the funding to be "effective," said Michael Maddux, a Democratic party and parks activist running against incumbent Godden in the 4th District, which includes the University District and Ravenna. "We didn't land in a consent decree overnight," Maddux said. "Maintaining independent, community oversight will not only help to avoid future consent decrees, but is also part of restoring faith in our police department."

Of course, the question about the CPC is not the only police-reform question at hand. We also asked candidates what they thought about the Seattle Police Department's discipline review board. That group, stacked with one police commander, one officer representing the union, and a mutually agreed upon outside arbitrator, hears disciplinary appeals—and some think it's performing poorly and should be abolished. In addition, we asked whether the Office of Professional Accountability (which investigates police misconduct and recommends discipline) should be allowed to hire civilian investigators and whether the SPD should request that the Department of Justice mediate a series of forums about how the department has treated Black Lives Matter protesters. (Despite a recommendation from the CPC that the SPD invite the feds to mediate these forums, SPD chief Kathleen O'Toole initially refused, saying it would be "inappropriate" for the department to "circumvent" the ongoing DOJ's consent-decree process. More recently, O'Toole consented to bringing in an independent group of experts to mediate a series of forums.)

In the responses that candidates e-mailed to The Stranger, there was broad consensus on the question of the OPA hiring civilians—yes, they should—and in support of the DOJ hosting forums on how the SPD has treated protesters. The only "no" answers on that were Burgess, who said "I leave this to the judgment of the chief of police," and SPOG-endorsed Godden challenger Abel Pacheco, who said council members should host these instead of the DOJ.

Council member Kshama Sawant, who has slammed the department over its response to protests, said, "There needs to be much more genuine discussion and accountability from the SPD on their undemocratic and heavy-handed policing of the Black Lives Matter protests."

The responses to the question about the SPD's discipline review board were more diverse, ranging from full-throated calls to abolish the board, as the CPC has recommended, to ideas for reforming it.

Burgess and Harrell both said they support replacing the board with one independent arbitrator or hearing examiner. Jon Grant, the former head of the state Tenants Union who's running against Burgess, called fully abolishing the DRB "one of the most important reforms."

"We have perpetuated a culture of impunity within our police department," Grant said, "that even in clear cases of excessive force officers won't change bad behavior because the disciplinary body that is supposed to hold them accountable only exonerates them. This must change."

Tammy Morales, who's running against Harrell in District 2, covering southeast Seattle, said, "The integrity of our accountability system is in jeopardy if we don't make dramatic changes soon."

Sawant said she supports abolishing the board, calling it "discredited," while her most formidable challenger—Pamela Banks, the president of the Urban League who has been endorsed by SPOG—was noncommittal: "Any solution must guarantee that disciplinary-review decisions are transparent, impartial, and accountable to the public while maintaining due process for police officers."

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Other candidates left open the idea that the board could be reformed instead of abolished. "The discipline review board cannot continue existing in its current form," González said without elaborating.

One notable outlier: Godden's most serious challenger, transportation advocate Rob Johnson. He took a page out of the incumbent's playbook and dodged answering this particular question, saying he doesn't think council members should "ever take a public position on policies that are a part of the bargaining process" because he doesn't "believe that's fair to either side." On the broader question of reform, though, he said, basically, trust him. "If elected," Johnson said, "I would certainly push for increased accountability within our police department." recommended