Policing Voter Guide is Out!
People Power Washington is pleased to present the 2021 Policing and Public Safety Voter Guide for Seattle, King County, and Burien to help you know where local candidates stand as you make voting decisions in the August 3rd primaries. (This week is the time to fill out your ballot if you haven’t already!) Key races will determine who sets the course in areas that impact all of us including choosing heads of our law enforcement departments, setting budget priorities, and negotiating collective bargaining agreements with police guilds.
Many local candidates responded to our questionnaires about public safety and the criminal legal system; you can read their on-the-record answers at the website and work to hold them accountable if they are elected. The website also includes explainers to provide context to the critical issues at stake this year. If your own jurisdiction is not covered by the current guide, you can contact People Power Washington at email@example.com if you’d like to help them add it for the general election in November.
I’m on the steering committee of People Power Washington and worked directly on some of the questionnaires and issue explainers. I hope you find them helpful!
A New Director for King County’s OLEO
Today the King County Council selected a new Director for OLEO (Office of Law Enforcement Oversight): Tamer Abouzeid, an attorney, mediator, community organizer and policy professional. He is replacing previous Director Deborah Jacobs. He is starting on September 20.
Seattle City Council Meetings
On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to pass a clerk file to make sure facial recognition technology is included as part of the City’s surveillance technology ordinance. CM Herbold reported that last week the Mayor’s Office announced committing $2m in next year’s budget to a regional response to gun violence, the Regional Peacekeepers, and CM Herbold would like to try to get some of that money out the door this year instead of next year.
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting.
At today’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, we heard about OIG’s phase one sentinel review report on the protests last year, as well as Summary Findings on the Executive Order on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety from the executive branch (Central staff presentation here/Executive branch presentation here). The live tweet of this meeting is of more than usual interest given the topics covered.
This first phase of the OIG’s sentinel review report only covers the first few days of the protests last summer, focusing on five primary events during those days. The report offers 54 recommendations that they hope are actionable for SPD. (As a side note, one of the most interesting things about the sentinel review report process is the use of a peacemaking circle within the selected panel to try to facilitate trust building and peace, as well as listening and reconciliation. I do question whether trust can be built between community and an organization with such deep systemic issues, but am interested in other applications for this process.)
One of the OIG report’s main critiques comes from Decriminalize Seattle, who tweeted that while the focus of the report is on fixing the system, the brutal police response of last summer IS the system, and the recommendations made in the report are “almost laughably pro-cop.”
The only problem:
Last summer’s brutal police response to protest IS the system
As for the summary findings for re-imagining public safety, the IDT involved in this work says they learned three things from community engagement: that community is not a monolith, that public safety extends beyond policing, and that people want more visible patrol presence, especially in the International District, Belltown, and Pioneer Square.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the report was that the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) was contracted to do an analysis of Seattle’s 911 call data, and they found 174 call types they thought could be answered by alternative responses instead of sworn officers, which Chris Fisher from SPD said would equal about 49% of calls. However, SPD did their own analysis and decided only 12% of those calls (28-30 call types) could actually be answered by alternate responses, including person down and welfare check calls. They said part of this was due to labor and legal issues (aka the police contract and local laws).
CM Herbold brought up the point that 12% of 911 calls is 48,000 calls a year, but the Mayor’s Triage One proposal (the new emergency response pilot) is only designed to answer 7,000 calls per year. She asked about the additional 40k calls in that 12% and why they weren’t included in the Mayor’s proposal. Julie Kline from the Mayor’s office said that Triage One is just a first step, what they see as “low-hanging fruit.” It is noteworthy seeing just how small a first step it is.