City Announces Creation of City Police Commission, Seeks Commission Members

This news advisory landed in my inbox yesterday morning, courtesy of the Seattle Neighborhood Group. As a community organizer, I like the idea of a City Police Commission that is a “partnership between the Police Department, its officers, community members, and public officials” whose mission is to “support the development of reforms, the establishment of police priorities, and mechanisms to promote community confidence in the Seattle Police Department”.

The concept of a Commission like this is just kind of community-oriented, participatory governance that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside (mmmm, collaboration).  This seems like an excellent strategy to deal with the tension between the SPD and the rest of Seattle in light of the (fairly) recent rash of instances highly visible police brutality. The thing I worry about is the difference between idea and reality.

Even if the City, the SPD, and the public are approaching this with the best of intentions, the Commission is going to have to wade through a lot of difficult emotions: the pain, fury & suspicion of Seattlites, the defensiveness & suspicion of Seattle police officers  and the Commission members own feelings on the issues they will be dealing with. City officials aren’t going to be feeling too happy either. And I’m not going to even going to get into what the Commission will have to deal with if everyone isn’t approaching this with the best of intentions.

This is not to say I don’t think the City and the SPD should go through with the City Police Commission – they absolutely should, and not just because the Justice Department is making them do it.  I say this because I know that the members of the Commission are in for some difficult work, and that should be kept in mind by anyone who decides to apply to be a member. Faithful readers, if you know any patient, compassionate, and civic-minded facilitator types who are up for investing a lot of time and energy into a very important issue, you should encourage them to apply.

(images courtesy of SPD website)



SUBJECT: City announces creation of a Community Police Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/10/2012 – 9:35:00 AM

Vinh Tang, Councilmember Bruce Harrell’s Office, 206.684.8804

Applications to serve on the Commission now available online – If you are interested on applying to serve on the Commission, please click here.


Today Mayor Mike McGinn issued an Executive Order, drafted in consultation with the City Council, creating a Community Police Commission. The Commission is a partnership between the Police Department, its officers, community members, and public officials. Its role is to support the development of reforms, the establishment of police priorities, and mechanisms to promote community confidence in the Seattle Police Department. The Commission is part of the Settlement Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice.

“The Community Police Commission is an important part of building a strong partnership between the people of Seattle and our officers,”said McGinn. “I encourage anyone interested in that work to apply to serve on this Commission.”

“The Community Police Commission is intended to create an empowered commission that community members have long wanted,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “The Public Safety Committee worked directly with community members to write an ordinance, which will be introduced this week that demonstrates the City’s commitment to providing effective and constitutional policing for all of Seattle’s residents.”

The Community Police Commission will include members from each precinct of the City, police officer unions, faith communities, minority, ethnic, and other community organizations, and student or youth organizations. McGinn will submit nominees to the City Council for their confirmation no later than 90 days from the issuance of the Executive Order.

More information about the Commission and an application can be found at:


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