Rebuffing union, Mayor Murray orders Seattle police to begin wearing body cameras

The mayor’s executive order comes one month after the absence of video left lingering questions in the fatal police shooting of Charleena Lyles.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a sweeping executive order Monday directing the Police Department to equip patrol officers with body cameras, one month after the absence of video left lingering questions in the fatal police shooting of Charleena Lyles.

Murray took the action amid stalled negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild over deployment of body cameras, declaring that additional delays would deprive Seattle residents of a necessary accountability tool on a timeline consistent with the department’s needs and community expectations.

“We have gone around and around and around trying to reach an agreement,” a frustrated Murray said in an interview Monday with The Seattle Times.

“We’re not there yet,” he added, saying that body cameras lead to less aggression toward officers and less use of force.

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Murray ordered the deployment by Saturday of body cameras on all bike-patrol officers in the West Precinct, which includes the downtown area, and full deployment on all West Precinct officers by Sept. 30.

The department also shall “in good-faith” proceed with deployment on all patrol officers on a monthly precinct-by-precinct basis, the order says.

Prompt implementation is needed to ensure that “no further significant uses of force by police officers will be undocumented by a video record,” the order says.

The directive came a day before U.S. District Judge James Robart is to hold a status hearing on a five-year-old consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department requiring the Police Department to adopt reforms to rectify the use of excessive force.

In early May, Robart approved the Police Department’s long-awaited body-camera program, clearing the way for the city to begin negotiations with the guild.

The guild, which has a history of trading wage hikes for reforms, at one point asked for extra pay of about 1½ percent for officers who wear body cameras, The Times reported after the shooting, citing three sources familiar with the talks.

Robart has pushed for body cameras and, more broadly, warned he won’t let the union hold the city hostage by linking wage increases to constitutional policing.

“I need to show more movement,” Murray said in the interview, referring to…

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