In her 16 years as a lawyer for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Kathryn Olson says she has been a champion for victims of discrimination, the Seattle Times reports. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels nominated Olson to lead a civilian oversight panel assigned to investigate claims of misconduct by Seattle police officers. Olson, 54, would become the second director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), created in 1999 to investigate complaints against police that could range from excessive use of force to use of improper language to questionable behavior on duty.
Some of the department’s 1,200 officers have viewed the agency and its former director, Sam Pailca, with distrust, said Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild. OPA receives about 1,000 complaints each year. Olson is looking into how to increase use of mediation, which she has used regularly with the EEOC. Olson said that by having the officer and the complaining citizen sit down to hash out the dispute, mediation can remove the shame that traditionally is cast on the officer whose actions are in question.