Everyone was supposed to be past the animosity that nearly prevented the City of Seattle from reaching a Consent Decree with the feds for reforming how Seattle police do business.
But the bitterness and infighting at City Hall are back as the clock ticks down for choosing a monitor who will oversee police reforms and report progress to the Department of Justice.
The city and DOJ have until October 26 to submit a name to U.S. District Judge James Robart. If they can’t agree on whom the monitor should be the two sides can submit separate lists and Robart will make the decision.
Mayor Mike McGinn is rejecting the person City Attorney Pete Holmes and four key Seattle City Council members want to see at the helm—and they’re not budging.
When Holmes and the city council members researched and interviewed candidates for the monitor’s job, they said one man jumped to the top of the list: Merrick Bobb.
Bobb has a Los Angeles consulting firm and is recognized nationally as a leader on police accountability.
“If we're going to make the kind of investments we need to make in terms of police reform and accountability, go to one of the best and he's clearly one of the best,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell.
Harrell said that even though the mayor and police chief don’t want Bobb, council members were hoping to change their minds. But Harrell said that just an hour before a scheduled mediation Wednesday, at which the mayor, city attorney and council members were hoping to reach an agreement, the mayor publicly rejected Bobb at a press conference.
“I do not believe that he would be a good monitor,” said McGinn. “Merrick Bobb has a non-profit and one of his board members is the person who wrote the report about the use of force by City of Seattle police and we have concerns he will not be viewed as an impartial and independent third party monitor because of that relationship,” said McGinn.
Bobb is no stranger to Western Washington. King County recently hired his consulting firm, Police Assessment Resource Center to audit how the King County Sheriff’s Office monitors use of force by deputies and investigates allegations of misconduct.
Harrell said he and his colleagues may pass a resolution that could force the mayor to accept Bobb.
"We feel strongly enough to go to the next step because we want to send a message to the court and DOJ that we are serious about this and if we're serious about this we want a leader and monitor that is serious as well and one person rose to the top of that list and that person was Merrrick Bobb,” Harrell said.
Before taking that drastic step, Harrell said they will sit down for another mediation Friday to see if they can come to terms.
The mayor blamed media leaks for fueling the controversy, saying he only talked about the monitor during his press conference on jobs Wednesday because the issue was already swirling around and he wanted to clarify his position.
“I guess I am very troubled that all of this had surfaced publicly. I was hoping that we could have a dialogue with DOJ and within the city family,” said McGinn.