Editor’s note: Mayor Ed Murray, who today named Harry C. Bailey new interim chief of the Seattle Police Department, sent this letter to the department:
To the Law Enforcement Officers of the Seattle Police Department,
As I take on my duties as Mayor of our great city of Seattle, I want to take this moment to share with you my vision for our Seattle Police Department. This vision is informed by a fundamental belief that in order for our city to thrive, we must have a police department that is effective at both controlling crime and building trusted relationships in all the communities and neighborhoods that make up the city of Seattle. This vision is also shaped by deep appreciation for the risks each and every law enforcement officer takes in putting his or her life on the line every day that you step outside your home wearing your uniform or your badge.
The Seattle Police Department is an integral part of our community. As such, the department must be trusted by all of the people of Seattle. The department must reflect the diversity of all the people who live in Seattle. The leadership of the department must be able to implement the reforms detailed in the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement while building officer morale through a positive and transparent culture change. Department leadership will not tolerate misconduct or discrimination during my administration. Nor will I.
Community policing must be the department’s operating philosophy, not merely a series of special projects. True community policing is about building relationships with the people the department serves and developing solutions to the problems they face. True partnership is about dialogue and relationship. And, when something goes wrong, we must have a swift and comprehensive accountability process that is clearly understood and trusted by all. I am committed to utilizing these principles of community policing throughout the entire city government structure, a practice sometimes referred to as community governance.
Additionally, public safety is not merely the domain of the Police and Fire Departments. Rather it is the job of all of us, both city government and the community at large. Crime and violence and injustice are economic, education, or public health issues as much as they are legal issues. We must approach them in the spirit of partnership, with a sense of mutual trust and responsibility.
Our Seattle Police Department ought to base its strategies on data and best practices, not merely tradition and instinct. To do that, our department must provide officers with the consistent training, tools and professional supervision and standards to carry out their duties. It must embrace new technologies and methodologies, recognizing that these are multiplier forces in an era when simply hiring more people can no longer be the only solution to every problem. The department is currently working to comply with the Settlement Agreement. But none of us should be satisfied with merely “good enough” in meeting the terms of the agreement.
Instead, I invite each of you to join me in looking beyond the horizon of our final, technical and eventual compliance with the terms of the agreement to a future vision where the principles and values that are at the foundation of this agreement those of justice and equality for all under the law are embraced and woven into the fabric of the department at all levels. The best practices and community relationships we develop must be sustained long after the Monitor has left. And while the Seattle Police Department is a good department, in striving for excellence, we must remember that “good enough, isn’t.” We can — and will — do better.
I will never be able to fully appreciate the dangers into which each and every law enforcement officer places him or herself when called to answer the call of duty. But I can promise you my unwavering commitment to seeing our Seattle Police Department return to its rightful place as a national leader in demonstrating the best of policing practices. Just as the best hospitals are
Thank you again for your public service to our great city.
Edward B. Murray
Mayor of Seattle