U.S. District Judge to Seattle’s Leaders: “There is an essential requirement for public safety.”
August 13, 2021
U.S District Judge James Robart made clear this week that the federal consent decree allowing the federal government to oversee the Seattle Police Department will continue until Seattle’s leaders can get their act together.
The Seattle Times reported that Judge Robart cited many possible reasons for the ongoing lack of compliance that he says has led to a “deepening crisis” impacting public safety. For example, city leaders can’t reconcile conflicting views on policing and they are punting on tough decisions until the elections pass.
He also pointed to the City Council’s actions and statements about defunding police right after the murder of George Floyd. He cited ChangeWA adviser and former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best’s recent op-ed where she reminded Seattle that the staffing crisis and public safety challenges we now face were predictable and one of the reasons she was compelled to step down last year.
Judge Robart, according the Seattle Times, sent a message to city leaders that to lift the consent decree the “city, the mayor and other elected officials from the City Council need to be constructive, not destructive to progress.” He also noted that he’s seen too much “knee-jerk reaction and not enough forethought” and that there is “an essential requirement for public safety.”
The result of this lack of leadership and harmful rhetoric is a mass exodus of hundreds of police officers, rising response times and a preventable increase in crime and violence.
Our hope is that current city officials and our next city leaders post-November’s election listen to Judge Robart’s words, change course, dial down the rhetoric and get to work on a plan to address the policing and public safety challenges our city faces. This is their job and they owe it to local residents to get to work now.