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Following a nationwide search, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has nominated Gino Betts as the next director of the city’s Office of Police Accountability.
Betts was previously an assistant state’s attorney in Chicago, where he prosecuted violent offenders for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, and an attorney with Chicago’s police accountability agency.
“We cannot have safety without accountability, and our Office of Police Accountability is a core component of our efforts to ensure a trusted, effective and accountable Seattle Police Department,” said Harrell. “After a robust national search, Gino was a clear standout for his commitment to fairness and justice, belief in continuous learning and improvement, and proven experience driving real progress in this critical area.”
Betts will be the fifth director of the OPA since it was created 23 years ago.
The office investigates complaints and allegations of police misconduct and makes recommendations to the chief of police. These investigations are carried out by Seattle police sergeants as well as civilian investigators.
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While OPA is administratively within the Seattle Police Department, it is a physically and operationally independent agency.
As a part of the selection process, Betts spoke at a public forum last month where he said growing public confidence in police accountability is one of his main priorities.
He is also an advocate for sharing body cam video as soon as possible when police action is called into question.
“I’m honored to join the Office of Police Accountability and to advance efforts to build transparency and community trust in the Seattle Police Department,” said Betts. “This is a new opportunity to bring a fresh lens and deliberate approach to these challenging issues — moving forward by engaging community through thorough investigations driven by honesty, transparency and a dedication to the truth.”
The city council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, as well as the full council, still has to confirm Betts into the role, but he is set to begin working on Aug. 1.
He plans to begin his tenure with a series of community meetings to introduce himself to the people of Seattle.