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OPA Review Board Home

Our Mission:

To provide community oversight and awareness of Seattle Police Department practices and its employee accountability system by independently:

  • Reviewing the quality of the accountability system,
  • Promoting public awareness of and full access to the system,
  • Obtaining information and opinions from police officers and the community on police practices and accountability, and
  • Advising the City on police practices and accountability.

Police Accountability in Seattle:

In 1992, the City of Seattle appointed its first civilian auditor of the Police Department's Internal Investigations Section. In 1999, in response to concerns from diverse segments of the community, the Seattle City Council created an accountability system of three parts: the Director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) (a civilian who oversees the former Seattle PD Internal Investigations Section and who reports to the Chief of Police); the OPA Auditor (an independent civilian contractor, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council, who audits all complaints and investigations); and the OPA Review Board. In 2002, the three-member OPA Review Board took office. In September 2008, the Review Board was expanded to seven citizens appointed by the City Council. The Seattle system of police accountability is a hybrid model blending the Investigative Model, the Monitoring Model, and the Auditor/Ombudsman Model from accountability systems across the country.

The Role of the Review Board:

The OPA Review Board strengthens the system of police accountability by:

  • Soliciting community input about police accountability and police practices,
  • Conducting an independent review of the quality of the OPA complaint and investigation process for fairness,
  • Reviewing police policies and procedures,
  • Researching national trends and best practices on police accountability and police practices,
  • Reporting to the community, City government, and the Police Department, on the citizen input it receives and the results of its independent review and research; and
  • Recommending topics to the OPA Auditor for the Auditor's review of OPA.

Our goal is to build a sense of confidence in the community that police services in Seattle are professional, honest, and free of bias.  We help ensure that complaints against police officers are treated fairly and expeditiously.

Community Outreach:

The Review Board holds public meetings once a month at City Hall, where it invites interested citizens to observe and to present their views.  The Board regularly meets with community groups to solicit comments and to identify their concerns about police services and reports its findings to the City Council. Review Board members are available to meet with citizens and community groups who have questions or concerns about the accountability process and police policies and procedures.  Review Board members are members of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement where they learn about national trends in police accountability.

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