• Winpower Strategies

A majority of Seattle residents want more oversight of the police department and disapprove of its "conduct in the last year," according to a poll released last night by the consulting firm for Seattle City Council candidate Bobby Forch. By a three-to-one-margin, it continues, residents say they want to reform police officer training.

The negative feelings about the police dominated almost every demographic, the poll's crosstabs show (.pdf). And predictably, opinions were most negative in South Seattle, where the city's largest bloc of racial minorities are particularly sensitive to a cavalcade of incidents involving officers apparently using excessive force to kick, shoot, degrade, abuse, and kill people of color.

For the numbers: Fifty-eight percent of residents disapprove of the Seattle Police Department's conduct in the last year, with the strongest opposition in the 37th and 11th legislative districts (70 percent and 72 percent disapprove, respectively). One interesting stat: Women only disapprove by a small majority (52 percent) while two-thirds of men disapprove (66 percent).

Fifty-seven percent say police require move oversight, with the largest group dissenting—saying that police need the same level of oversight—being independents and Republicans. A whopping 76 percent say training must be changed; the largest majority calling for change is the 37th district in southeast Seattle.

Not only attempting to cast himself as a police-reform candidate (a savvy, timely move in a crowded race), Forch is apparently attempting to distinguish himself from incumbent Jean Godden. In 2007, Godden said she didn't believe that the city council should have the power to reconfirm the police chief when the chief's term expires. Forch's poll, conducted by John Wyble's WinPower Strategies, finds that 75 percent of voters disagree with Godden—they say the council should reconfirm the chief.

But whether Forch can maintain this tack—being The Police Reform Candidate™, as Wyble is attempting to do—will have be proven on the campaign trail. When Forch ran unsuccessfully in 2009, he seemed neither stalwart nor steadfast in his opinions. He'll need to stick to his guns.

Last week, three council members recommended 11 improvements for the police department, but Godden wasn't among them.