Stung by criticism over his handling of officer discipline, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske defended his actions but said it may be time to change the way the department polices itself, reports the Seattle Times. Kerlikowske was harshly criticized by members of the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, who said he interfered with an internal investigation that led to exonerating officers. “I’m totally not opposed to reviewing the system as it is, and quite frankly, maybe it’s time,” he said.
Peter Holmes, a member of the citizen review panel that monitors police discipline, was “extremely heartened” to hear the chief is considering making written findings in disciplinary cases. Kerlikowske, chief since 2000, has long resisted the idea, saying it would force him to disclose highly personal information officers reveal to him in their own defense. James Kelly, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, suggested the chief explain in writing when he disagrees with recommendations from the staff discipline director. “I think the public has a right to know,” Kelly said. Issues of police-officer credibility and discipline have simmered for years. A public outcry in 1999 over a homicide detective’s theft of $10,000 from the apartment of a man killed by officers resulted in a citizen panel recommending establishment of the civilian-directed review agency in place today. The handling of that case by then-Police Chief Norm Stamper was a factor in his retirement.