Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn took two significant steps relating to the city’s settlement with the Department of Justice, announcing a long-delayed reappointment of the civilian director who oversees police internal investigations and hiring a nationally recognized civil-rights attorney who played a key role in spurring widely praised police reforms in Los Angeles, reports the Seattle Times. McGinn nominated Kathryn Olson, who oversees the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, to the job she has continued to hold without required City Council confirmation after her initial three-year term officially expired more than two years ago.
His biggest move was the naming of Connie Rice to advise him as the city moves forward in addressing the Justice Department’s concerns about the use of excessive force and discriminatory policing. As a civic leader, she helped bridge divides between Los Angeles police officers and gang members. She also played an instrumental role in guiding the city through a consent decree with the Justice Department that was hailed for changing community perceptions of the police department. Rice, who served for years in the Los Angeles office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, is co-director of a civil-rights organization called the Advancement Project. Last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the settlement, Robart gave his provisional approval to the agreement, while staking out more say over the selection of the monitor and asking for more frequent reports on the progress of the reforms.