Last week, how the candidates for District 3’s seat on the Seattle City Council look at policing and accountability was put on stage in front of the police officer union. One candidate participated and said he wanted to “stabilize” the city’s police force and address concerns of reduced ranks and sinking morale. The other boycotted the event, saying she would stand with activists in the fight for accountability.
This week, in a forum hosted by a wide array of Seattle community organizations including Seattle’s Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute, El Centro de la Raza, and the GSBA, both Egan Orion and Kshama Sawant are expected to attend and have their say on legislating policing in the city in a Wednesday night forum:
Seattle City Council Candidates Forum on Police Accountability
Wednesday, October 16 6 to 8:30 PM
Centilia Cultural Center 1660 S Roberto Maestas Festival St
In 2012, Seattle entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to address findings of use of excessive force and racial bias by the Seattle Police Department, and in 2017, our City Council unanimously passed a landmark Accountability Ordinance that made Seattle a national leader in rebuilding community trust and confidence in police officers. Currently, certain provisions in contracts the City signed with two police unions would return Seattle to the old regime that failed to provide adequate disciplinary oversight and accountability. The federal judge overseeing the 2012 settlement agreement ruled in May that the City has fallen out of compliance. The next City Council will be involved in negotiating the new contracts. Join us at this important candidate forum to listen to the candidates’ stances and be on the record on one of the most important issues affecting our families and communities. Program will begin at 6:30 pm sharp. Please consider arriving by 6:00 pm.
“Far too often, the conversation on police accountability has had to start at the grassroots level in the wake of tragic events, with the political establishment rushing to catch up, and the SPOG standing in opposition,” Sawant said in a statement prior to last week’s Seattle Police Officers Guild forum that she declined to attend. “I stand with the Movement for Black Lives, which has called for independently elected community oversight boards with full powers over police departments.”
Sawant cast the only vote against the city’s proposed contract with the SPOG, which has over 1,300 members, almost a year ago, arguing that it would roll back necessary provisions in the city’s new police accountability law.
Orion last week told the group he believes SPD should be held more accountable to constitutional policing but said Seattle also need to “stabilize our force and celebrate the great work that officers are doing everyday out in our streets.”
He said he agrees with efforts to replenish the department’s ranks. “We’re losing police officers faster than we can hire them on the SPD,” Orion said. “Public safety is an essential part of our every day lives, of course.”
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