Merrick Bobb, the man with the task of putting Seattle’s police reform in place, he hopes everyone involved “rolls up their sleeves” to make the changes work. It is also the time to let lingering differences surrounding the effort become “water under the dam,” Bobb tells the Seattle Times. The 66-year-old consultant, whose groundbreaking work on police accountability dates to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, offered his views on the challenges he faces in Seattle. “The stakes are very large,” he said.
Bobb spoke after U.S. District Judge James Robart named him to serve as the independent monitor overseeing the city’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, which calls for changes to curtail excessive force and address biased policing. The appointment of Bobb, president of Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), a nonprofit in Los Angeles, is a watershed moment in Seattle’s decade-long struggle to deal with police-accountability issues, which came to a head with an officer’s unjustified fatal shooting of woodcarver John Williams in 2010. Bobb, known for his rigorous standards in bringing about police reforms, said he is aware of resistance to his appointment. “It will be overcome,” he said, by people “hopefully seeing that I am a fair, honest and credible source of information.”