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Civil Rights Lawyer Connie Rice Says She Can Help SPD Build Trust

Amy Radil
09/20/2012 at 12:00 a.m.

In the wake of a US Justice Department investigation, Seattle officials are implementing a plan to reform the police department. And civil rights attorney Connie Rice says she's going to help Seattle officials as an advisor, although she hasn't yet signed a formal contract. Amy Radil reports.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he wants Connie Rice to advise him as the city implements its consent decree with the Department of Justice. The decree requires the Seattle Police Department to reexamine its reporting and training around every use of force by an officer.

Rice worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to meet a consent decree and regain community trust. The L.A. police chief recently called her "the conscience of the city of Los Angeles." But Rice says that process took nine years, and it's impossible to change police culture overnight.

Rice: "A lot of police will look at what I'm talking about and say, 'Oh that's some crazy female crap, they want us to become social workers.' And police don't like to look like women, they're macho. So I, we had to show them that what we were talking about was actually smart crime–fighting."

Rice says as trust improved so did LAPD's statistics because more people came forward with information and to serve as witnesses. Rice visited Seattle last week but her meeting with the Police Officers' Guild was cancelled. Rice says she's undaunted and plans to meet with union officials during her next visit on October 1.

Rice will serve as an informal advisor to the city, not as the independent monitor. That person is currently being selected by the city, the DOJ and a federal judge.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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