A nearly united city council voted eight-to-one this afternoon on a resolution aimed at locking Mayor Mike McGinn and an unwilling Seattle Police Department into their choice of independent police monitor, Merrick Bobb. The city must agree on a monitor by October 26. Council member Mike O'Brien cast the sole "no" vote.
"Attorneys for the United States have stated that they would agree with the City to [appoint] Merrick Bobb as the monitor of the [Department of Justice's] consent decree," argues the city council resolution (.pdf). "The City Council requests... that the City agrees to the selection of Merrick Bobb as monitor."
That last sentence should read "The City Council requests that THE MAYOR agrees to the selection," as McGinn appears to pushing back against a majority in the city council and city attorney's office. Over the past few months, city officials have culled down their candidate pool from 23 applicants to four—only one of which the SPD apparently objects to: Bobb.
"Having not met [Bobb], I am very uncomfortable inserting myself in this process," said O'Brien, the council's lone "no" vote.
"I am also concerned with the police department’s opposition," added council member Sally Bagshaw, who nevertheless voted in favor of the resolution.
But council members who've been invested in the process argue that Bobb has 20 years of experience in police reform and use-of-force, he's literally written the book on police monitoring (National Guidelines for Police Monitors, 2008), and the city shouldn't be kowtowing to the wishes of the very department in need of federal intervention.
"This was not done overnight, this was done as a result of lot’s of conversations," council member Bruce Harrell said. "We’re trying to talk about now having a learning organization, an organization that embraces change. There will be a sort of four corners and understanding that the monitor will have to work within. We look forward to submitting his name to court for approval."
McGinn's office hasn't yet returned a request for comment on the resolution.
During the meeting, the council also unanimously approved the creation of a Community Police Commission, which will primarily focus on reviewing reports on SPD and making recommendations on new policies to address complaints of use-of-force and biased policing within the department.