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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 3
Reforming the SPD - Tina Podlodowski appointed to Community Police Commission
Section One
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Reforming the SPD - Tina Podlodowski appointed to Community Police Commission

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Former Seattle City Council member Tina Podlodowski, a Lesbian who also once headed Lifelong AIDS Alliance, has been appointed to the special commission created by Mayor Mike McGinn to direct changes in the Seattle Police Department in the wake of a severely critical evaluation of SPD practices by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The mayor's office announced the appointment of Podlodowski and 14 other members of the Community Police Commission in a statement released January 14. Podlodowski was one of 104 applicants, she told SGN, and one of 13 community representatives. Two commission members represent SPD.

The December 2011 Justice Department report found that 'SPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.' The city and DOJ agreed on steps to remedy the situation in July of last year.

The Community Police Commission is charged with establishing priorities for reform and engaging the community in the effort.

A QUESTION OF TRUST
'It's complicated,' Podlodowski told SGN, 'because it's not just an issue with SPD. It's also an issue with the community. We need to restore public trust that the police department is the kind of department we think it is here in Seattle.

'If people don't think they can trust the police, the police will just not be effective.'

Podlodowski noted that as a City Council member from 1996 through 1999, she wrote the ordinance that established SPD's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), to review complaints about police misconduct.

'At the time,' she recalled, 'I hoped there wouldn't have been a need for this now. It's a disservice to every citizen - and frankly to the men and women of the Police Department, too.'

As the only openly LGBT member of the commission, Podlodowski says, 'I want our community to be well represented. I want the commission to understand the community's views.'

A POLITICAL FOOTBALL?
Commission members will be confirmed by the City Council in February, and in May independent auditor Merrick Bobb - appointed by a federal judge to monitor compliance with DOJ recommendations - will present his report.

'The committee will have to work quickly,' Podlodowski says, 'and in the midst of a mayor's race.'

Asked if she worried that the commission's work might be an issue in the already crowded race for mayor, Podlodowski replied that she has tried to distance herself from all the candidates.

'What I've done,' she explained, 'when candidates have asked me for my support, I've told them I will not do anything that would hinder our ability to be objective. I hope this will not be a political football - it's too important.'

After their confirmation next month, commission members plan a retreat 'to spend time together, to understand each other's backgrounds and opinions,' Podlodowski notes.

'We don't necessarily know each other that well, but I think we're all committed to solving the problem.'

MEMBERSHIP ROSTER
Besides Podlodowski, the members of the commission are Claudia D'Allegri, vice president of behavioral health for Sea Mar Community Health Centers; Lisa Daugaard, deputy director of the Defender Association; Kate Joncas, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association; Bill Hobson, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Services Center; Jay Hollingsworth, John T. Williams Organizing Committee; Joseph Kessler, Seattle Police Department captain; Diane Narasaki, executive director of the Asian Counseling & Referral Service; John Page, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and program coordinator at the Defender Association's Racial Disparity Project; Marcel Purnell, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism; Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the ACLU of Washington; Kevin Stuckey, officer of the Seattle Police Department; Kip Tokuda, former state representative for the 37th Legislative District; the Rev. Harriett Walden, co-founder of Mothers for Police Accountability; and the Rev. Aaron Williams, senior pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church. Daugaard and Narasaki will co-chair the commission.

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