Durkan and Herbold proposing new roles for accountability partners in bargaining SPD contracts
information from City of Seattle
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Councilmember Lisa Herbold have announced new, expanded roles for the City’s police accountability partners and City Council staff in police contract negotiations. In the upcoming contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) and the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), a City Council representative will be at the bargaining table and Office of Police Accountability Director Andrew Myerberg, Inspector General Lisa Judge, and a member of the Community Police Commission will serve as bargaining advisors. This is the first time a community representative from the Community Police Commission has an official role in the bargaining process.
“For years, community members have been rightly demanding that the City’s police oversight and accountability partners have a greater role in bargaining with the police unions. As we head into pivotal negotiations where issues of accountability, public trust, and the department’s relationship with community will be front and center, the expertise of the OPA, OIG, and CPC will continue to be crucial,” said Mayor Durkan, who outlined priorities for changes in state law to police unions and accountability this summer. “In Washington state, meaningful changes to policing must occur largely through changes to state law, and current law requires negotiating in good faith with the unions on accountability measures. In the upcoming state legislative session, I believe we have an obligation to fundamentally transform how cities approach bargaining, discipline, and accountability. Moving forward under current state law, we can create a new role for our accountability partners, who are committed to transforming the role of police in Seattle. I’m grateful for Councilmember Herbold’s partnership and the advocacy and contributions of the CPC, OIG, and OPA.”
“This new role for the Community Police Commission is an important step in our collective efforts toward greater police accountability. Several items in the 2017 accountability legislation adopted by the Council, but not included in the last SPOG contract, require bargaining. All hands on deck with our three accountability bodies helping advise the City in the next bargaining round is critical,” said Councilmember Herbold (District 1, West Seattle/South Park). “In addition, having a City Council representative at the table will greatly enhance the ongoing knowledge of Councilmembers serving on the Labor Relations Policy Committee. I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s collaboration in making these significant improvements to the bargaining process.”
The existing contract with SPOG is set to expire on December 31, 2020, and the contract with SPMA expired on December 31, 2019. At upcoming negotiations, a City Council representative will sit at the bargaining table, alongside members of the City’s Labor Relations unit and the Seattle Police Department. Office of Police Accountability (OPA) Director Andrew Myerberg, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Inspector General Lisa Judge, and Community Police Commission (CPC) member Suzette Dickerson will now serve as bargaining advisors to the City. Their role will be to provide input to the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) on bargaining parameters and strategy. They will be available upon request of the Labor Relations Director to attend bargaining sessions and provide feedback on contract proposals. Once the contract negotiations are complete and contracts are ratified by the union members and the City Council, the accountability partners and the City Council representative will provide input into the first public report that will be issued by the Labor Relations Director.
“The Community Police Commission is excited for the opportunity to help ensure the reforms in the landmark 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance are fully implemented. The CPC along with dozens of community groups have raised concerns over the ways the current contracts undermine police accountability for years. Our community deserves a system it can have faith in, and we are ready to work with City leaders and other partners to make sure those beneficial changes are made,” said the Community Police Commission Co-Chairs.
“This is a significant step towards ensuring public trust and confidence in the City's collective bargaining with the police unions and in the outcome of those negotiations. OPA is looking forward to the opportunity to assist in this effort and is appreciative of the collaborative approach demonstrated by the Mayor and the Council,” said Andrew Myerberg, Director of the Office of Police Accountability.
“My office and I look forward to working with the accountability partners and the City to make the bargaining process for the SPD contracts more transparent and accessible to community. OIG also appreciates the collaboration between the stakeholders to bring about this important step to increase confidence in the bargaining process,” said Inspector General Lisa Judge.
There was no formal City Council staff representation in previous contract negotiations with SPOG and SPMA, and only Mayor’s Office, Seattle Police Department, and Labor Relations representatives were at the table with the unions. While the OPA served as a bargaining advisor previously, the CPC did not, and the CPC never participated in LRPC meetings. The civilian-led accountability partners have distinct and independent roles: The OPA investigates allegations of misconduct by SPD employees; the OIG evaluates the department’s policies and practices to identify systemic issues and propose changes; and the CPC represents the community’s voice and provides community input on policing.
Contract negotiations with SPOG have not begun due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has initiated the process with the LRPC to determine the City’s bargaining strategy and parameters for SPMA and will discuss the strategy and parameters for the SPOG contract in the coming weeks.
The existing SPOG contract was approved in November 2018. Several elements of the 2017 Accountability Ordinance were bargained for in the 2018 SPOG contract, including: full implementation of body-worn cameras by front line officers; improvements and clarity for the 180-day timeline for investigations of police complaints; civilianization of the Office of Police Accountability supervisor positions and an HR leadership role in SPD; and the Office of the Inspector General was provided full and unfettered access to fulfill its duties.