Seattle: ACLU-WA Calls for An Independent Office for Police Accountability

News Release: 
Monday, June 14, 1999

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington today issued a report calling for the creation of an independent office for police accountability. The report, "A Call for an Independent Office for Police Accountability," details how Seattle's system for investigating citizen complaints of police misconduct has failed and explains why further tinkering cannot be expected to make it work.

"The current system is fatally flawed because it relies on police to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by their fellow officers. Meaningful accountability will come about only through the establishment of an independent office for police accountability. It must be staffed by professionals who are not police officers and who have the power to investigate and to issue subpoenas," said Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington.

The ACLU-WA report describes how the current system of having police investigate police is not responsive to citizens with complaints and gives them no reason to trust it. The report further explains that the current internal investigations system fosters a lack of leadership in the police department and city government that discourages citizens from making complaints of police misconduct. The ACLU-WA calls for the creation of an independent office for police accountability that operates under the following principles:

  • Provides an Open and Trustworthy Process
  • Is Professional and Independent
  • Has Investigatory Power
  • Has a Disciplinary Role
  • Conducts Analysis and Reporting
    Issues Policy Recommendations
  • Has Sufficient Funding