The City of Seattle and the Department of Justice, as expected, filed a joint request Wednesday asking a federal judge to appoint Los Angeles police consultant Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor to oversee police reforms.
The request, in a four-page motion, was submitted to U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is presiding over a settlement agreement reached in July between the city and federal attorneys. The agreement calls for changes in the Police Department to curb excessive force by officers and address biased policing.
Mayor Mike McGinn and police officials had expressed their opposition to selecting Bobb, questioning whether he would be impartial because a board member for his nonprofit in Los Angeles had helped write the Justice Department report, released in December, that led to the proposed reforms.
But the City Council, in an 8-to-1 vote on Monday, directed City Attorney Pete Holmes to file the motion jointly with the Justice Department, which had made Bobb its top choice. Councilmembers had been advised by the city’s ethics chief that Bobb’s hiring could be done without violating conflict-of-interest rules.
McGinn’s office then announced he would respect the council vote as the city’s position, although it labeled the action a mistake that might make it more difficult to carry out reforms.
In Wednesday’s filing, the city and Justice Department noted they had conducted an “extensive process” to select a monitor from many candidates. They also provided the resumes of Bobb and his team to Robart, who, according to city officials, has said he wants to interview the candidate and decide by Nov. 12 whether to accept the recommendation.
Bobb has long been widely considered to be one of the nation’s foremost pioneers and leaders in the field of police accountability and reforms.