One of the appointees to the new Seattle police commission could draw close scrutiny during City Council confirmation proceedings in light of questions about her Medicaid billing practices.
Fifteen people, including longtime police-accountability advocates, have been appointed to a new Community Police Commission created as part of an agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing in the Seattle Police Department.
“We’ve given them a hard job,” Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference Monday to announce the choices, who are subject to confirmation by the City Council.
It was McGinn who proposed the idea of a commission during tense negotiations that led in July to the landmark agreement with the Justice Department. The cornerstone of the settlement was the appointment of an independent court-appointed monitor to ensure that changes are carried out in the Police Department.
Although the commission will not work directly with the monitor, Merrick Bobb, he could solicit the panel’s views, McGinn said. The commission also could provide the city with its ideas on what the monitor proposes, he said.
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But its primary role will be “problem-solving” to support the development of reforms, establish police priorities and help promote community trust in the Police Department, McGinn said.
Its members, who will serve three-year terms, represent all five of the city’s police precincts.
Appointed as one of the co-chairs was public defender Lisa Daugaard, deputy director of The Defender Association and supervisor of its Racial Disparity Project. She has worked closely with the Police Department to develop alternative approaches to enforcing drug laws.
Daugaard said the commission would be different from past panels that looked into police accountability, which were weighted toward people with “generic” civic-policy backgrounds in contrast to those with specific expertise on the issues the commission will tackle.
The other co-chair, Diane Narasaki, is executive director of the Asian Counseling and Referral Service.
Citing years of struggle to achieve constitutional policing, she said she viewed the settlement agreement as an opportunity for a “new day in our city.”
Also named to the commission was Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, which has long played a key role in pushing for police reforms and, more specifically, the Justice Department investigation that led to the settlement agreement.
McGinn also chose marketing and public-affairs manager Tina Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Council member who in 1999 authored legislation to create the first-ever civilian-led Office of Professional Accountability in the Police Department.
In that position, she was a candid critic of the Police Department’s accountability practices.
One McGinn appointee who might draw close scrutiny from the council is the Rev. Harriett Walden, who co-founded Mothers for Police Accountability in 1990.
She was named despite unfavorable publicity in September, when KING 5 raised questions about her Medicaid billing practices for optical services and revealed that the state was suing her to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars. Walden denied any wrongdoing.
McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus, in a written statement, said, “We were aware of the issue. She has spent her life working on police-accountability issues and has deep connections in the community. That’s why we asked her to serve.”
The appointees also include two required representatives, Kevin Stuckey of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, a veteran officer who currently is a school resource officer at Aki Kurose Middle School; and Capt. Joe Kessler, vice president of the Seattle Police Management Association.
Other members include Claudia D’Allegri, vice president of behavioral health at Sea Mar Community Health Centers; Bill Hobson, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center; and Jay Hollingsworth, vice chairman of the Native American Democratic Caucus in Washington state and co-chairman of the John T. Williams Organizing Committee, formed in the name of the woodcarver whose fatal shooting in 2010 by a Seattle officer sparked a public outcry and the officer’s resignation.
Also named were Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association; John Page, program coordinator at the Racial Disparity Project; Marcel Purnell, a program assistant for the American Friends Service Committee’s community-justice program and coordinator for Youth Undoing Institutional Racism; Kip Tokuda, a former state representative and advocate on behalf of children and families; and Aaron Williams, senior pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org