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New voices raised against Seattle police contract proposal

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SEATTLE - New voices are being raised Thursday against a labor contract proposal between Seattle and its police officers.

Critics, including two dozen community groups, outlined their concerns with the new tentative contract Thursday.

The ACLU of Washington, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, El Centro de la Raza, Mothers for Police Accountability, the Public Defender Association and others now urge the city council to reject the contract.

The critics say the contract, which was approved by the police union, waters down federal police reforms. A federal judge on Monday made it clear that he would ultimately decide if it actually complies with the federal decree.

The next step for the new police contract is a City Council vote, but leaders at civil rights group El Centro De La Raza and two dozen other groups are urging the council to reject the contract when it votes on Tuesday.

It's been three years since Seattle police officers had a contract and the department says it's been very hard to hire and retain officers. The city also has been under a federal decree to reform police use of force and strengthen accountability.

But Seattle's Community Police Commission - which helped formulate the rules the department now operates under - came out against the new contract proposal, for a number of reasons.

The commission says language in the contract weakens - takes away or makes reform less clear - than the city's police accountability law.

Seattle Police Department policy requires officers to be truthful, however the commission says the proposed contract contains old language that limits when an officer must provide complete and honest information.

The proposed contract also changes the statute of limitations for discipline against an officer to four years, rather than five as stated in the city's new reform law.

To pass, at least seven of the nine City Council members must vote for it.

The new coalition of groups is holding a rally Thursday to give its reasons against the council approving the contract.

Both the city and police officers agreed on the new contract details in August.

The six-year contract is retroactive to 2015 and police guild members would receive total pay raises of 17 percent throughout the entire contract.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild represents more than 1,300 officers and sergeants.

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