Members of the Seattle Police Department are battling community activists and the ACLU, who are targeting the new contract that the police department is seeking, and strong rumors have been floated that various members of the nine-member Seattle City Council will vote against the contract’s approval when the vote is taken on Tuesday. Seven aye votes of the Council are needed to pass the contract.
The contract has already been overwhelmingly approved by the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, but rumors persist that Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien will vote against the contract.
Last month, Chief Carmen Best told the Jason Rantz Show, “We need to have this contract go through. We are not going to be able to provide effective public safety, in my opinion, unless we fairly compensate the officers. Too many officers will leave. They’ve worked too hard. No one expects nurses, or teachers, or anyone else to work without a contract. Why should the officers have to do that?”
Best may be too late; My Northwest reported in October, “By the end of August 2018 (the last date with data available), the SPD had already lost a staggering 77 officers, with 29 officers resigning, outpacing the 63 officers they hired, many of which are recruits not in the field. If the situation continues at this rate, we’ll see 103 officer separations by the end of the year.”
One member of the police department’s Command staff told Jason Rantz of KTTW, “All I know is that there is a concerted effort to encourage the council to reject the contract, rather than sending it to the court for review. And as you can imagine, many officers are confused and hurt by this.” An SPD officer echoed, “The Community Police Commission want two things; they want to be written into language so they’re permanent and they want to be at our table at future negotiations. These are people who absolutely despise us. They’re not Average Joe Citizens. These are people who absolutely despise us and want to see the force burn.”
The officer added, “What are we gonna do? It’s the only thing they have to recognize our job and say ‘thank you’ to us. What other agency does this? Four years without a contract! Think of teachers… federal law says they can’t strike, but they strike. We can’t even consider striking and the city knows that, and it’s why we’ve been [almost four years] without a contract.”
Last Thursday, as The Seattle Times reported, 24 community groups encouraged the City Council to reject the contract. Representatives of El Centro de la Raza, the ACLU of Washington, Mothers for Police Accountability, the Public Defender Association and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service all signed a letter to that end. The city-sponsored Community Police Commission has called for rejecting the contract.
Michele Storms, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, stated, “Today the council stands at a critical juncture, whether to take the community a step backward on accountability or to vote no and we are asking the council to reject that agreement.”