Betts, a champion for transparency and accountability, will bring experienced leadership to deliver objective, thorough and just misconduct investigations
Seattle – Mayor Bruce Harrell will appoint Gino Betts the next director of the Office of Police Accountability following a national search. Betts, an accountability leader, career public servant, and current Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, will officially join the Office of Police Accountability on August 1st, beginning his tenure with a series of community meetings to introduce himself to the people of the city.
“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 Mayor 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. I’m excited to appoint him to this position and know Seattle will be well served by his independent, determined, and thoughtful approach to police accountability.”
“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. My pledge to Seattle and all its residents is to evaluate each case brought before me by striving to fully understand the details, facts, and nuances, while never losing sight of justice and the need for true, meaningful accountability.”
Betts’ professional and lived experience provide an important perspective for ensuring effective oversight efforts. As an attorney with Chicago’s police accountability agency, he participated in a number of high-profile cases, helping secure accountability and expose instances of corruption and misconduct, including against former Chicago Police Department Chief Ron Watts. Betts also teaches and serves the community through organizational boards and nonprofits, including those focused on safety, diversity in the legal field, and community engagement. You can read his full biography below.
The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) investigates complaints and allegations of misconduct regarding SPD employees, using SPD policy and local, state, and federal laws to recommend findings to the Chief of Police. Accountability is a definitive tenet of Mayor Harrell’s vision for a restored and community-trusted Seattle Police Department.
Mayor Harrell is continuing to prioritize police accountability, building on his City Council record where he led the charge for body cameras, passed the City’s first bias-free policing law, and worked with community, stakeholders, and SPD to appoint a Community Police Commission, a new Director of the OPA and the Civilian Auditor of OPA.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Lisa Herbold, City Councilmember and Chair of Council Public Safety & Human Services Committee
“I thank Mayor Harrell for his nomination of Director to the Office of Police Accountability. I look forward to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee consideration of Mr. Betts for this position. Mr. Betts has worked in a police accountability system with more authority than the OPA; I believe this experience will make him an effective voice for additional accountability reforms in Seattle.”
Miri Cypers, Regional Director of Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest
“It has been an honor to serve on the Selection Committee for Seattle’s Director of Office of Police Accountability. As an organization that fights hate and ensures the civil rights of our communities, the inclusion of community voices has been integral to the selection of the new director, and we are grateful to the many voices who have been a part of the process. I can think of no better person for the role than Gino Betts whose service in Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability and career as a prosecutor give him the insight and tools needed for this critical role. Mr. Betts is passionate about public service and community, and I look forward to working with him to address police misconduct and reforming our policing system to improve public trust and the safety of all our communities.”
Rev. Dr. Patricia L. Hunter, Co-chair of the Community Police Commission
“I applaud Mayor Bruce Harrell for his selection of Mr. Gino Betts as the next Executive Director of the Office of Police Accountability. Mr. Betts is highly qualified for the position and brings a wealth of experience and commitment to police accountability. Mr. Betts will work with all the accountability partners and is committed to being seen in and transparent with the Seattle community. The search committee was unanimous in its decision to move Mr. Betts forward in the search process for the next executive director of the Office of Police Accountability.”
About Gino Betts
Gino Betts is a highly experienced and committed career public servant. He is a product of Chicago’s South and West Sides, areas most impacted by police misconduct. Gino currently serves as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney where he leads the Southside Community Justice Center. His current work includes collaborating with community leaders, law enforcement, and elected officials to problem solve local concerns and reduce area violence. Gino also represents the nation’s second largest prosecutorial office at several community events, panels, and webinars, while managing a full caseload of violent felony offenses.
Previously, following a national wave of police misconduct incidents, Gino was recruited to serve as an attorney at Chicago’s new police accountability agency. There, he worked on several high-profile cases, including allegations against former-Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. Watts ran a team of corrupt officers who extorted residents and falsely arrested those who objected. Gino’s work helped secure administrative findings and discipline against several involved officers and over 200 vacated convictions for wrongfully incarcerated community members.
He also worked as the Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management attorney, where he was quickly promoted to interim chief-of-staff. Gino studied International and Comparative Constitutional Law in Cape Town, South Africa. He also teaches legal writing at DePaul University and trial advocacy at University of Illinois at Chicago. Outside of work, Gino has served on several nonprofit boards, including those focused on community engagement, public safety, and diversifying the legal field.
Gino is a father of a two-year-old boy and husband to his college sweetheart Jessica, who will celebrate a 10-year anniversary later this year.
Overall, he is excited to bring fresh ideas, a commitment to community building, and thorough and transparent misconduct investigations to serve Seattle residents.