As the U.S. Department of Justice crafts a court order aimed at ending what it says is the unconstitutional use of force by Seattle police, some community groups — who have waited years for their complaints about police to be addressed — are feeling rushed by the process, reports the Seattle Times. A dispute has arisen over the makeup, or the need, for a citizens advisory panel to oversee implementation of the reforms, as suggested by Mayor Mike McGinn.
Justice Department civil-rights attorneys have met with McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, members of the City Council and dozens of citizens groups and community members over the past three weeks with an eye toward completing interviews and most information-gathering by the middle of February. “There is a sense of urgency to get things done,” said Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bates. “Having this lingering and looming isn’t good for anyone.” Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza said she has asked the Justice Department to extend its deadlines for community input. After a dozen years of committees, task forces and reports about problems in the Police Department, “why suddenly is there a hurry?” she said.