Seattle police contracts

The Community Police Commission (CPC) has been working for years to create a strong police accountability and disciplinary system in Seattle. However, Seattle's police contracts have stood in the way of many of those efforts. On February 25, 2021 the CPC submitted eight additional recommendations to the Mayor and City Council concerning upcoming contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).

If implemented, we believe these recommendations will enable Seattle to implement a strong, properly civilianized police disciplinary and accountability system and ensure the bargaining process itself is as transparent and accountable to community as possible.


Our eight recommendations, which are the result of years of community engagement call on the City to achieve three main goals:

Fully implement the reforms in the landmark Accountability Ordinance

That law, which was unanimously passed by the City Council, aimed to implement a strong police disciplinary and accountability system in Seattle - that includes removing any limitations on civilians investigating police misconduct. However, less than two years later, many of those reforms had been undermined by new police contracts. City leaders need to keep their promise to community and fully implement the law.

Ensure the contracts promote police accountability

When the CPC analyzed the current SPOG contract in 2018, we found it undermined police accountability in surprising ways we did not even know were on the negotiating table. One example is that the current contract makes it harder to fire an officer for misconduct if that misconduct is "stigmatizing" to a police officer and makes it harder for them to get another police job. We cannot allow surprise stipulations like that one to be put in the contracts again.

Bargain the police contracts in a more transparent and accountable way

In the past, police contract negotiations have taken years without any information being shared with the community about their progress or even about what the City is attempting to accomplish through negotiations. For the community to have trust in the process, this must change. We are calling on the Mayor and City Council to, among other things, make the City's bargaining priorities public, give community regular updates about the progress of bargaining, and publicly explain what the City got and gave up at the conclusion of bargaining.

Additionally, CPC is committed to finding ways to divest from policing and reinvesting in community-approved alternatives. We believe the contracts should allow for that to be done in the best way possible. The CPC may consider additional recommendations on that issue in the near future.

The CPC helped pass Seattle's landmark 2017 Accountability Ordinance with unanimous support from city leaders. However, within two years, many key pieces of that law had been undermined by new police contracts. 

Building off our years of work in this area, the CPC has been working to address the problems posed by the police contracts in three key ways: 

  • Advocating for changes to state law so police accountability can not be bargained away during contract negotiations, 
  • Filing briefs with the Federal Court in opposition to Seattle's current police contracts, leading to a court order requiring Seattle to address many of the ways the contracts undermine accountability; and
  • Amplifying the community's voice in current and upcoming police contract negotiations. 

The CPC is committed to ensuring the collective bargaining rights of all people are protected. However, we must acknowledge that police are vested with unparalleled authority in our society to carry weapons, use force, and deprive people of their liberty. Because of this unique dynamic, police officers must be subject to higher standards including transparency in collective bargaining that may not be appropriate for non-law enforcement unions.

Unfortunately, police contracts in Seattle and across the country have been used as tools to undermine accountability for decades. Seattle community members and labor advocates have been clear - this must end. It is the CPC's position that accountability measures that combat police misconduct - which is often violent and disproportionately affects people of color - should not be subject to bargaining at all. However, as current Washington State law requires many of these provisions to be bargained, we call on you to exercise your power to ensure the contracts and the negotiation process itself are as accountable as possible.

How you can help

The Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) -- a group led by five City Council members and the Mayor -- is responsible for overseeing negotations of the police contracts. You can support the CPC by contacting those elected offiicals and urging them adopt the CPC's eight recommendations concerning collective bargaining with Seattle's police unions. 

The LRPC members are:

Council President Sara Nelson, Chair of LRPC

Councilmember Robert Kettle

Councilmember Cathy Moore

Councilmember Maritza Rivera

Councilmember Dan Strauss

Dan Eder, Mayor's Office Director of Policy 

Tim Burgess, Deputy Mayor

Julie Dingley, City Budget Office Director

Kimberly Loving, Seattle Human Resources Director 

Jeremy Racca, Mayor's Office Legal Counsel

Learn more about the committee and find agendas on the LRPC website.