In the most concrete directive on the issue in the last several years, the Seattle City Council's public safety committee sent a letter to police officials and sat down with union leaders today to outline 11 proposals for restoring public faith in a police department soiled by controversy. The specificity of the agenda—from mandatory drug testing after using a firearm to beefing up training with in-car camera footage—strikes a different approach from Mayor Mike McGinn, who has repeated that "We need to do better," but hasn't specified policy or procedural changes at SPD that would make it better.
"We need specific policy solutions to stop the erosion of public trust and confidence in our officers," says Council Member Tim Burgess, who signed the letter along with council members Sally Clark and Sally Bagshaw. "We have a dual purposes to support our police by strengthening public trust."
Among the recommendations: mandatory steroid testing after an officer has used deadly force (even if nobody died); hiring preference for recruits with a college degree; simultaneously referring criminal investigations of an officer to the county and city prosecutors for possible felony and misdemeanor charges, respectively; county-wide protocols for all officer-involved deaths; and monthly reports on officer-discipline investigations.
The full letter is in this .pdf.
Some of the council's recommendations would require the two police unions—the Seattle Police Officers Guild (representing all uniformed officers) and the Seattle Police Management Association (representing lieutenants and captains)—to approve the terms as part of their labor contract. Burgess won't specify which terms must be negotiated, except to say, "I don’t believe most to them are subject to bargaining." Burgess believes the recommendation can be incorporated into the contract currently under negotiation.
The council members consulted with the City Attorney's office, officers, and organizations to form their recommendations. Burgess would not comment if they consulted with any personnel under the mayor's purview, which actually oversees labor negotiations.