Seattle City Council
5/30/2006 3:54:00 PM
Lisa Herbold (206) 684-5331
COUNCIL PASSES BILL RESTORING REVIEW BOARD ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN POLICE FILES
Returns citizen review to approach originally favored by City
SEATTLE – Today, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a bill to restore the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, citizen-review function, as intended by the Council when it passed the original enacting legislation in 1999.
Soon after the passage of the original legislation, the city made an agreement with the Seattle Police Officers Guild to change the law so OPARB could only review reports that eliminated the names of officers. The difficulty of reading these files, with redacted names of SPD employees who may be the subject of or witness to a complaint, has made it difficult for OPARB to make sense of these closed cases. It also prevents them from determining patterns of complaints.
The bill’s sponsor, Council President Licata said, “I’m looking forward to seeing – for the very first time – Seattle’s police accountability structure work as it was originally intended by the City Council. This is an important step necessary to foster the full confidence of the public in its police department."
Additionally, this bill clarifies that OPARB members have no greater liability than other City employees and restates that OPARB members' may not disclose identifying information.