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Mayor McGinn announces staff member and outside expert as he moves forward
SEATTLE - Following court approval of the city of Seattle's Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Mayor Mike McGinn announced a key staff member and an outside expert for implementing the Agreement and broader reforms to ensure constitutional policing and public safety in Seattle. The mayor also submitted Kathryn Olson to the City Council for re-confirmation as director of the Office of Professional Accountability.
Connie Rice, a national leader in urban police department reform, will advise the mayor going forward as the city implements the reforms detailed in the settlement agreement and the Community Police Commission outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. Rice is well-known for her work assisting in the reform of the Los Angeles Police Department and has won more than 50 major awards for her work on building diverse coalitions, police reform, employment discrimination and equitable public resource allocation. She served for nine years in the Los Angeles office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and is a graduate of Harvard College and the New York University School of Law. She received the 2001 Peace Prize from the California Wellness Foundation and serves on the board of directors for the Advancement Project, a group committed to racial justice founded by veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999. Rice's acclaimed memoir, Power Concedes Nothing, covers her work on civil rights issues in the education, transportation, incarceration and public safety arenas.
"Connie brings her community and civil rights experience in assisting the city of Los Angeles during their broad and deep police reform efforts," said McGinn. "I look forward to her expertise as we implement our Agreement with the Department of Justice."
Glenn Harris will staff the Community Police Commission detailed in the Memorandum of Understanding with the DOJ. The Commission must be implemented within 90 days of the final entry of the settlement agreement. Harris has previously served as the manager of the city of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative. The Initiative works to eliminate institutionalized racism in city government and to achieve racial equity in Seattle. He previously worked in southeast Seattle for five years as the Southeast District Coordinator at the city of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Previously, Harris worked with Western States Center, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides technical assistance, training, research and policy analysis in an eight-state region to organizations working to achieve social change.
"Glenn's leadership on our city's Race and Social Justice Initiative has been a great asset," said McGinn. "His commitment to social justice and his knowledge of city government will help support the mission of the Community Police Commission."
The mayor also announced that he is re-nominating Kathryn Olson to serve as Director of the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) for a term extending until May 2013. Olson's reappointment was put on hold in deference to the DOJ investigation of SPD and negotiations toward a mutually acceptable agreement.
Since becoming OPA Director, Olson has overseen implementation of the recommendations of the Police Accountability Review Panel (PARP), which was convened in 2007 to perform a comprehensive review of Seattle's police accountability system. She has taken steps to improve the quality and timeliness of investigations, develop improved case tracking systems, and improve staff training and monitoring. Outside reviewers, including OPA Auditors and the DOJ, have consistently found that OPA investigations under Olson's direction are thorough, professional and objective.
Olson is actively engaged in implementing specific OPA reforms required by the Settlement Agreement with DOJ, including revisions to reporting policies and updates to the OPA Training and Operations Manual, as well as broader policy changes relating to use of force, de-escalation techniques, first-line supervision, respectful policing, and in-car video usage.
"Kathryn is a dedicated and knowledgeable public servant," said McGinn. "Our Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice clearly lays out required policy changes to be made on a set timeline. Kathryn will help us make those changes on that timeline."
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