Six cases of officer misconduct reversed by interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey will be reopened to determine if all or some of them should be reinstated, the City Council was told today during a special meeting to examine Bailey’s actions.
In a stunning revelation, a city official acknowledged that officials have been unable to find written proof the reversals were tentatively approved by the prior interim chief, Jim Pugel, as Bailey and Mayor Ed Murray have stated.
Bailey said Monday he would not reinstate the misconduct findings because of that prior approval.
He indicated those cases were different from a seventh in which he reinstated a misconduct finding against an officer who threatened to harass a journalist observing a police incident last summer.
In that case, Bailey made the decision to lift a one-day suspension in favor of additional training, touching off a firestorm of criticism and questions.
A special review will be conducted of the other six cases, ranging from an officer who failed to arrest a domestic-violence suspect to one who lost a container with cocaine in it.
The move comes as a City Council committee this afternoon questioned Bailey’s controversial handling of the seven police disciplinary cases.
The meeting before the public-safety committee stemmed from last week’s revelation that Bailey had withdrawn the misconduct finding against Officer John Marion, who threatened to harass at work the journalist for The Stranger, a weekly newspaper. Bailey reduced the penalty from a one-day suspension to additional training, which erased the misconduct finding.
However, on Monday, he reversed course and announced he had reinstated the misconduct finding. Marion was still required to do training, but without the suspension.
Bailey said he didn’t know that a training referral would eliminate a misconduct finding when he sought to clear a backlog of pending grievances stemming from past disciplinary actions.
Wednesday’s council meeting included discussion on how to resolve grievances in a more timely fashion, which is likely to touch on issues tied to the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.
The city is expected to seek wholesale changes during upcoming negotiations with the guild, whose contract expires at the end of the year.