In a major breakthrough, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn agreed today to allow the name of Los Angeles police-accountability expert Merrick Bobb to be recommended as the independent monitor to oversee police reforms.
McGinn’s decision came shortly after the City Council on Monday directed City Attorney Pete Holmes to join with the Department of Justice in recommending the appointment Bobb to the key job.
The 8-to-1 vote to recommend Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor had set the stage for a potential clash of executive powers within the city as a Friday deadline looms to reach a decision. But a conflict was avoided by McGinn’s decison.
McGinn said last week that he objected to Bobb because a board member of Bobb’s nonprofit helped write the Justice Department report that led to a settlement agreement and the appointment of a monitor to oversee efforts to curb excessive force by officers and biased policing.
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But the council, in passing the resolution, cited Bobb’s national reputation in the police-reform field, as well as an opinion by the city’s chief ethics official that Bobb did not have a confict of interest. It passed a resolution directing Holmes to file a joint pleading with federal attorneys urging U.S. District Judge James Robart to appoint Bobb.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien was the sole dissenter.
Federal attorneys have said Bobb is their choice, according to the resolution.
In a statement released late today, McGinn’s office said:
“We know from the experience of other cities that reform efforts are successful when the police force buys in to the effort. Our office and others expressed concerns that Mr. Bobb would not be seen as an impartial monitor of our settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. We are disappointed that the Council did not listen to those concerns and that our reform efforts may prove more difficult as a result of their vote. We believe that their vote was a mistake, but respect that this is now the City’s position. Going forward, the mayor will roll up his sleeves and continue to work with all stakeholders to implement reform in our police force.”