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Council News Release

10/12/2007  5:09:00 PM
Lisa Herbold, Licata Office, (206) 684-5331

Council President Nick Licata

Council Panel will examine legal and organizational aspects of Seattles civilian oversight of law enforcement

SEATTLE Council President Nick Licata, today, announced the formation of the Councils Police Accountability Panel. The Panel will examine both the legal and organizational aspects of Seattles civilian oversight of law enforcement. Council President Licata said, We need to establish a framework for consideration of changes that may be proposed by the Mayors Panel on Police Accountability.

As Seattles lawmaking body, the Council created the current system of police accountability including the Office of Professional Accountability, the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, and the Office of Professional Accountability Auditor. Currently that system is under review by the Mayors Panel on Police Accountability. Council President Licata expects that the Mayor will bring legislation to the Council to change the civilian oversight of law enforcement. The Mayors panel, however, is not examining two key areas that the Council has found to have significant impact on police accountability: the legal framework that supports or constrains civilian oversight of law enforcement and the culture of the Seattle Police Department that influences how police accountability laws are implemented on a daily basis. The Council is appointing its Police Accountability Panel to further these aspects of civilian oversight of law enforcement.

The Councils Police Accountability Panel has seven members: Des Moines Municipal Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan; Leo Hamaji, Felony Division Supervisor at the Defender Association; Steve Herbert, University of Washington Associate Professor of Geography and Law, Societies, and Justice; Wilson Edward Reed; University of Washington Law Professor Eric Schnapper; Dean of Seattle Universitys School of Law Kellye Testy; and Seattle attorney Lynne Wilson.

The Council has asked the Panel to undertake two areas of inquiry: a legal review and an inquiry into organizational leadership culture and philosophy. In regards to the legal review, Council President Licata asks, Are there legal constraints, omissions and/or ambiguities that inhibit police accountability in the City of Seattle? Such constraints may include current labor contracts, laws that prevent or discourage citizens and or police officers from participating in the public police accountability process, laws allowing for citizen appeal. We may find the need to ask the state to amend its laws regarding public disclosure, said Council President Licata. While considering the inquiry into organizational leadership culture and philosophy, Council President Licata asks, What is the police leadership position on police accountability and the current system? How does this leadership philosophy shape and determine the culture concerning police accountability?

The panel will begin its work in October of 2007 and should finish March 1st, 2008 if possible. Attached: Biographies of Panel members and the Panels scope of work


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