Seattle: Participatory Budgeting News
Controversy surrounds Chief Diaz’s recent decision to overturn the OPA finding regarding the pink umbrella case. At this morning’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold, the Chair of the Public Safety committee, spoke about her correspondence with the Chief over this matter, including the bombshell that there is new evidence that has surfaced that wasn’t in the OPA investigation. CM Herbold says she is holding her judgment until she finds out more about what happened up the chain of command, but CM Lewis asked some pointed questions about whether this new information had been turned over to the OPA and whether the Chief is taking it upon himself to continue this investigation or whether the OPA will be doing so, as well as concerns that norms aren’t being followed. You can find all the related emails of this exchange over at SCC Insight along with a summary of the issues involved.
…the context suggests a coverup. These suspicions are bolstered by the fact that five members of senior command at the Seattle Police Department also deleted their text messages. That means the question of who ordered the abandonment of East Precinct hasn’t been definitively answered, with both Durkan and former Police Chief Carmen Best denying they gave the order. It’s possible a subordinate made the call independently as they claim, but without the text messages to confirm this story, it’s a very convenient explanation.
Meanwhile, in King County…
The South Seattle Emerald has started an excellent series of investigative journalism by Carolyn Bick on the pushback and internal pressure faced by former OLEO Director Jacobs, OLEO being the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight for King County. She appears to have faced a years-long campaign against her by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the King County Police Officer’s Guild. Here are a few key quotes:
They said that this culture of law enforcement pushback against civilian oversight and closing ranks had always been present but has grown much more pronounced under Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. These same sources also said that the KCPOG had been particularly hostile towards Jacobs over a similar period of time.The pressure and roadblocks Jacobs faced during her tenure aren’t unique to Jacobs and the KCSO, according to civilian law enforcement oversight experts who spoke with the Emerald. Even former Sheriff Urquhart, who sat down with the Emerald for an interview on May 10, 2021, agreed that Jacobs faced an internal campaign to oust her and said that “there’s something about a reformer … they just don’t last long here [in King County].
In other words, the new contract appears to prevent investigators from consulting or commissioning reports from any expert whose findings KCSO determines are critical of findings by an expert KCSO consulted in its original administrative investigation of a matter, such as a police shooting. The contract seems to block OLEO from including rebuttal experts in their investigative reports or testimony.