Seattle Police Department Won’t Comply With Constitutional Policing Without Wage Hike
Posted by Xena
Federal district court judge James Robart is a President George W. Bush appointee. He is presiding over a case involving a consent decree between the Department of Justice and the City of Seattle. The decree was reached in 2012, and required the city to remedy unconstitutional practices including illegal stops, unreasonable and deadly use of force, and other practices.
In order to fulfill its legal obligation, Seattle attempted to reach a compromise with the police union this summer, offering a new contract that mixed the requisite reforms with wage hikes. The union overwhelmingly rejected the contract on the grounds that it did not sufficiently reward officers with more money and benefits in exchange for engaging in constitutional policing.
“The court and the citizens of Seattle will not be held hostage for increased payments and benefits … ,” U.S. District Judge James Robart said of contract talks, adding, “I’m sure the entire city of Seattle would march behind me.”
Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle’s Chief of Police, has pushed the police to adopt successful training on crisis intervention and bias-free policing. Kevin Stuckey recently became president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG). Guild members, which consist of officers and sergeants, voted 823 to 156 to reject a contract that one source says attributed too many giveaways without enough in return.
Judge Robarts isn’t having it, and made the statement quoted above. The Seattle Times reports more on the consent decree and what happened in court, including how the police rejected civilian oversight.
Judge Robart ended the hearing with deeply personal remarks, in which he noted a statistic that showed, nationally, 41 percent of the shootings by police were of Blacks, when they represent 20 percent of the population. He also said the recent shootings of police officers, including in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and of 4 Lakewood, Piercy County officers in 2009, reflected the importance of the work being done to heal police and community relations.
Judge Robart then said “Black lives matter,” drawing a startled, audible reaction in a courtroom listening to the words coming from a federal judge sitting on the bench. However, as Mark Joseph Stern writing for Slate pointed out, although Judge Robart’s comment marks the first time a sitting federal judge has explicitly cited the civil rights movement, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has echoed its call to end police brutality and validated demands for police reform.
Posted on 08/16/2016, in Black lives matter, Cases, civil rights, Department of Justice and tagged consent decree, DOJ, Judge James Robart, police contract, Police Department, Seattle. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.