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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mayor's Police Accountability Review Panel is MIA?

Last year, after a string of high profile police misconduct cases resulted in exonerations by Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske which resulted in the entire accountability process and the chief's interference being blasted by the Office of Professional Accountability's (OPA) civilian review board (OPARB), Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels created a "blue ribbon" Office of Professional Accountability Review Panel (OPARP) to review the investigative and accountability process to see if there were problems. The Seattle City Council did the same and created their own review group (SCCPAP).

The problem from the start was that the mayor's group had the appearance of being a stonewall attempt because of the mayor's steadfast backing of the chief and the SPD officers who were found to have been involved in cases of misconduct by internal investigations, but cleared by the chief anyway. Meanwhile, the city council's review board started issuing suggestions fairly quick. Some of those recommendations have already been passed, even though they are now being fiercely fought against by the Seattle Police Officer's Guild (SPOG) in litigation attempts.

The Mayor's OPARP was due to issue it's report in November of 2007, but so far still no report. The OPARP then changed the date to January with very little notice (on most city government web sites the due date is still listed as November).

Well, January is almost over... and still no word from the mayor's OPARP. No recommendations on how to fix Seattle's out of control police department, no word on why the misconduct review process is so easy for officers to game even when they are found guilty of misconduct.

In fact... Since November, not a single word from the mayor's panel at all.

So, were the findings and recommendations not to the mayor's liking? Are they trying to make it all go away by quietly killing it? Or is the city still trying to tweak the report to make the problems sound less problematic than they really are?

Two months overdue, and very little word about when it will really be out and why there was a delay is very suspicious, and makes me think that the report will be a watered down stonewall attempt... which is what most people and news outlets thought it would be from the start.

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