Seattle City Council
4/6/2006 2:48:00 PM
Lisa Herbold (206) 684-8803
COUNCIL PUBLIC HEARING ON POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
SEATTLE – On >Tuesday, April 18, at 5:30 the City Council’s Public Safety, Governmental Relations, and Arts (PSGRA) Committee will have a public hearing on the subject of police accountability.
Police accountability means many things to many people. For purposes of this hearing, the PSGRA Committee wants to hear what Seattle citizens think about the City’s approach to “receiving and investigating complaints by citizens about police misconduct” and whether this approach meets the mission to:
• "Provide for citizen oversight of the citizen complaint process;
• Promote public awareness of and full access to that process; and
• Advance reforms that increase police accountability to the public by the Seattle Police Department.”
Some aspects of police accountability must be bargained in good faith with the police labor unions including the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG). Labor negotiations are very different from the usual legislative process and are confidential. Labor negotiations do not allow for public involvement. For this reason, PSGRA Committee Chair Nick Licata says, “it is important that we hear from the public regarding their thoughts, concerns and issues on the subject of police accountability before the City begins negotiations with the SPOG.”
NOTE: This hearing is intended to focus solely on police accountability and is not a venue for testifying about more general public safety issues such as a) the need for additional neighborhood patrol staffing, b) neighborhood watch groups’ needs for better access to data about local crime trends, or c) individual complaints. If you have an interest in issues like these, Council President Nick Licata’s office can tell you what meetings are scheduled for citizen input. You can call 684-8803 and ask for Lisa Herbold.
If you’d like to find out for yourself what represents the current agreement between the City and SPOG about police accountability you can read the current SPOG contract online at here
If you still want more background, the Office of Professional Accountability has a website here
The Office of Professional Accountabilty Review Board has its website here
If you’d like to learn more about the city labor relations policy and the laws governing it, please see the page titled, City Labor Relations Policy - Frequently Asked Questions.
Labor Relations Policy in Seattle - Frequently Asked Questions
WHO IS INVOLVED IN LABOR NEGOTIATIONS?
Labor negotiations are carried out by the parties to the contract – the employer and the employees. The employer is represented by the Executive Branch (Mayor and departments) and the employees are represented by their union.
WHY IS THE PUBLIC NOT A PARTY TO THE CONTRACT; DON’T TAXES PAY THE SALARIES OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES?
By law, the public is not a direct party to that process. The public interest is represented by the elected officials involved in the process.
WHAT PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE INVOLVED; WHO DOES WHAT IN THE CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS?
The Executive is the 1) negotiating representative for the City/Employer in the actual negotiations. Councilmembers are not a part of this process.
The Executive and the Council 2) develop the broad goals for contract negotiations for all of the City’s labor contracts. The Labor Relations Policy (LRPC) committee has 5 Councilmembers and other members appointed by the Executive. The LRPC must concur with substantive changes to wages, hours and working conditions for City employees.
The Council votes to 3) confirm the contract after it is negotiated. Without the support of the parties to the negotiation – the Executive and the employee union – it would be difficult for the Council to change the contract after the parties reach agreement . An attempt by the Council to change a labor agreement after negotiations could be an unfair labor practice under the state labor laws.
WHY IS EVERYTHING CONFIDENTIAL?
Strict confidentiality of labor negotiations is required by state law and city ordinance. Confidentiality of what is being proposed, discussed and considered must be maintained to allow the parties to freely exchange ideas and work towards an agreement free of influences neither shared by the employer nor the employees.
HOW DOES THE PUBLIC KNOW IF THEIR INTERESTS ARE REPRESENTED?
Anybody can let Councilmembers and the Mayor know their hopes for outcomes before negotiations begin. That information may guide the LRPC in determining the broad goals for contract negotiations. The final contract will let you know the results of the negotiations. Councilmembers are briefed throughout the process, but the content of those briefings is confidential.