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Council majority declines to sign police reform letter

SNOHOMISH — A City Council majority on Tuesday, Oct. 5 informally rejected a request from Mayor John Kartak to send a letter on behalf of Snohomish that requests Gov. Jay Inslee to call state Legislators into a special session to develop clearer guidance for the state’s police reform laws and to push state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to release model policy guidelines for police sooner.
The letter would have read basically the same as ones approved by city councils in Lake Stevens, Monroe and Everett, according to Kartak. The Tribune has not reviewed the letter.
In an informal 4-2 hands-up decision without a roll call vote, council members Linda Redmon, Tom Merrill, Donna Ray and Judith Kuleta gave a no. Councilmen Steve Dana and Larry Countryman raised their hands to say yes. Councilman Felix Neals was not present for the hands-up poll.
Some council members reacted that Snohomish supports its police, and pointed to a Sept. 7 presentation from Police Chief Rob Palmer to say the Snohomish Police Department is navigating the new reform laws well.
Councilwoman Judith Kuleta said the letter “is causing divisiveness” in the community.
Councilman Tom Merrill said Snohomish sending a letter like this would cause “a wedge to our public.”
“Yes, there are ambiguities in those laws, but we don’t have these problems,” Merrill said. “Maybe Everett does.”
Kartak told the Tribune post-meeting he found it “a little heartbreaking it was received (by council) with a little animosity, and that animosity seems out of place.”
“I don’t think public safety should be a partisan issue,” Kartak added.
Legislators are anticipated to begin amending police reform bills when the full Legislature opens session in January.
Kartak said state legislators “won’t be focused in January like they can in a special session.” He calls it an emergent need and that law enforcement officers currently risk facing “unacceptable situations” because of the law enforcement reform rules that went into effect July 25.




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