Kathryn Olson, the civilian director of the Seattle Police Department’s internal-investigations section, was reappointed by Mayor Mike McGinn to the job Tuesday, more than two years after her initial three-year term expired.
Olson, who oversees the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), now must be confirmed by the City Council, something that did not occur while she continued in the position and drew criticism from the past and current chairs of the council’s public-safety committee.
McGinn held off on the reappointment while awaiting the results of the Department of Justice civil-rights investigation into the Police Department that concluded with a finding in December that Seattle officers too often use excessive force, and subsequent negotiations that led to a settlement in late July under which an independent monitor will be appointed to oversee reforms.
During a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the settlement, raised concerns about the status of OPA position. Robart gave his provisional approval to the agreement, while staking out more say over the selection of the monitor and asking for more frequent reports on the progress of the reforms.
Olson’s new term would expire in May 2013 if she is confirmed by the council. The OPA job is limited to three terms and nine years.
“Kathryn is a dedicated and knowledgeable public servant,” McGinn said. “Our Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice clearly lays out required policy changes to be made on a set timeline. Kathryn will help us make those changes on that timeline.”
McGinn also announced the hirings of civil rights attorney Connie Rice, a national leader in urban police department reform, to advise him as the city implements the settlement agreement, and Glenn Harris, who previously worked as Southeast District coordinator at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, to work on the staff of a newly formed Community Police Commission that is part of the settlement. The commission is to make recommendations on reforms.