Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today had the following statement on Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey’s disciplinary action within the Seattle Police Department.
“After hearing the public’s concerns about Chief Bailey’s decision to change the discipline in the Marion case, I have directed Chief Bailey to reinstate the original finding.
Chief Bailey and I have had extensive discussions about this case. We both agree: this was a mistake.
The decision to change the discipline was the call of the Chief. But I stood with the Chief and publicly supported that decision. And I am Mayor: the buck stops with me. So, this mistake was mine. And today I am fixing that mistake.
Chief Bailey’s intent was correct. His decision to pursue an education-based discipline was a progressive action that, if implemented more broadly, would move the department in the right direction and help shape and model good behavior.
But we did not sufficiently make our case to the public. And because of how we handled it, our actions do not look like reform to members of the public. To many, our actions look like the opposite of reform. So we have some work to do.
But it cannot be overstated: Chief Bailey misled no one. He does not harbor high ambitions or a hidden agenda. Chief Bailey is a man of integrity, whom I coaxed out of retirement in order to help me and the department on the road to reform.
Chief Bailey does not need this job – this job needs him. He is performing a public service, and he is performing it with honor. The smears against his character and his integrity are beneath the dignity of this city, and they must stop.
The fact is, Chief Bailey was ahead of us. We do need new ways to think about accountability and culture change. We do need education- and value-based forms of discipline that change unacceptable behavior and sustain the values of an organization. And we do need to look at our OPA process, which has remained the same for the past 15 years under 6 different chiefs and 4 different mayors.
In my inaugural address, and in my State of the City address, I quoted FDR, who talked about bold and persistent experimentation. He said, ‘it is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.’
I am admitting frankly that our method to address accountability and culture change in the Marion case failed. And I am pledging that we will attempt another. And when we do, we will take better steps at involving the community.”