OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY (OPA)
The Office of Professional Accountability is the office within the Seattle Police Department that receives and investigates complaints about police misconduct. The office is headed by a civilian director Kathryn Olson.
Director Olson also serves as president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and the OPA has adoped the Code of Ethics recommended by this organization.
The mission of the OPA is to provide for civilian oversight of the complaint process; to promote public awareness of and full access to that process; and to advance reforms that increase police accountability by the Seattle Police Department.
HOW THE OPA WORKS
The Investigation Section of the OPA investigates complaints of police conduct. The civilian Director oversees the intake, classification, and investigation of complaints, certifies investigative findings, and makes recommendations on disposition and discipline to the Chief of Police.
The OPA Director regularly reports to the Mayor and the City Council on OPA activity and issues concerning the professional standards of the Department. She also makes recommendations on strategies and policies to improve complaint gathering and investigative procedures.
CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT PROCESS in SEATTLE
Civilian oversight in Seattle has three parts.
The Office of Professional Accountability is directed by a civilian who oversees the experienced detective sergeants who investigate complaints of misconduct and related issues of police practices.
The OPA Auditor has independent authority to review all cases.
The seven-member civilian OPA Review Board conducts community outreach regarding accountability issues and reviews the operation of the accountability system. Each part is independent, but all three work together to meet the goals of the system.