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February 9, 2016
Author: 
by David Kroman

"The CPC was created during the negotiations between the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice after the U.S. Department of Justice found the Seattle Police Department used excessive force and showed patterns of bias. For all intents and purposes, the commission was a more permanent outlet for the community voices — from the ACLU, NAACP and others — that pleaded with the DOJ to open an investigation in the first place. Former Mayor Mike McGinn pointed to the creation of the commission as a major step forward.

Indeed, the commission’s creation has attracted attention elsewhere, with local versions popping up in some other recently announced reform agreements around the country.

But the good relationship between police and the grassroots commission here pops out even more when you compare it to Cleveland, the second city to create a Community Police Commission after Seattle’s. Several Cleveland commissioners have accused the president of Cleveland’s police union, Detective Steve Loomis, of intentionally sabotaging the commission’s work from the inside out.

Amid all the tension over the progress of reform in Seattle, in fact, community advocates and cops have managed to sit and stay at the same table, despite their disagreements and sometimes conflicting philosophies on policing. Heck, they may even like each other.

As a part of the agreement creating Seattle’s Community Police Commission, two spots were guaranteed for police: one representative from SPOG, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, and one representative from the Seattle Police Management Association, the police leadership union. Officer Kevin Stuckey currently represents SPOG; Captain Joe Kessler represents SPMA.

The combination could very well be an awkward one. After all, it seats community representatives who were friends of John T. Williams, the Native American woodcarver almost inexplicably killed at the hands of an officer, next to people who worked with that very officer.

But with the exception of one CPC meeting, in which Stuckey threatened to quit the committee, the relationship has been cordial. “They don’t marginalize Kevin,” says SPOG President Ron Smith. “They treat him like a commissioner.”

The respect Kevin is afforded spreads to the broader SPOG force. Smith says that the commission has “their charge underneath the consent decree. We’re not always going to agree, but we can talk to each other. I have a really good relationship with [CPC co-chair] Lisa [Daugaard]."

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