Lots of news pieces of note to go over today!
Good morning! Let’s take a listen to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, shall we? And I believe you can still sign up for public comment for this morning as well.
First, Seattle had a Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting on Tuesday, at which there was a robust conversation about the report on city-wide hiring incentives. The findings were that hiring incentives tend to act as a short-term fix to increase the applicant pool and have a limited impact on retention. Looking at the hiring incentives in place for SPD and the 911 call center from October 2021-January 2022, they did increase the applicant pool for emergency dispatchers at the call center, but SPD did not see any increase in candidates. Proponents of the hiring bonuses say four months wasn’t a long enough time to see if they would be effective, which would be more convincing if the 911 call center hadn’t seen some success in the same time period.
CM Nelson says we know these hiring incentives work because police departments in other cities use them and therefore more study isn’t needed. CM Herbold referenced a preliminary study done on 2019 SPD hiring incentives, in which only 1 in 5 applicants said the bonus had affected their decision to apply; she seemed more interested in the idea of offering relocation assistance for lateral hires. CM Lewis pointed out police departments across the country are having trouble hiring police officers and wanted to investigate whether any departments are seeing more hiring success in order to emulate them if so.
The conversation will continue at the next Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting on Tuesday, April 26 at 9:30am, at which you can sign up to give public comment. Last week there was discussion that there wouldn’t be a committee vote on any hiring bonus legislation until May 10, which would mean no full council vote until later in May. The conversation is especially critical given the city is still facing a $150m budget deficit for 2022, meaning every dollar counts.
Seattle has officially selected the Participatory Budgeting Project to administer its participatory budgeting program. If you remember, this organization suggested community voting would be unable to take place until early in 2023.
Court Monitor Oftelie released his Use of Force Preliminary Assessment, and the community engagement meeting regarding it was held on Tuesday evening. Carolyn Bick has two excellent Twitter threads regarding this report: the first one details issues they find in the report itself, and the second one is reporting from the meeting itself.
Of the report, Mike Carter of the Seattle Times says:
“At the same time, the monitor points out that Black and Native American people continue to be disproportionately represented when force is used, based on census data, and that Asian and Black people make up an inordinate number of the victims of police shootings. However, Seattle police monitor Antonio Oftelie said any conclusions are complicated by the fact that race data was missing in almost a third of the reports overall, even though officers are required to provide it. Both the monitor and Seattle police officials said the failure by officers to report the data, as well as their supervisors to require it, was troubling.”
Meanwhile, Seattle’s Human Rights Commission has decided to pursue amicus status in the consent decree. This status would potentially allow them to file a brief that could contain “the stories and solutions of our residents and community stakeholders most affected.” The goal, as I understand it, is to ensure residents’ experiences are preserved as part of the official record. What other effect this could have on the consent decree, if any, or indeed, how Judge Robart would respond to such an idea, remains unclear. You can read more about this decision here.
If you’re interested in how Operation New Day is going, Paul Kiefer wrote an excellent update and overview over at Publicola. There have been few felony arrests at Third and Pine, and US Attorney Nick Brown has said finding any high-level drug dealers at that intersection is unlikely. Police officers have begun to refer cases to LEAD again, there is still disagreement about how and whether to continue to fund JustCARE, and Senior Deputy Mayor Harrell is talking about the possibility of opening smaller satellite police precincts in places like downtown and the ID.
King County News
Stephan Thomas, who appeared to be the most progressive of the existing candidates, has withdrawn from this year’s King County Prosecutor race. The primary will still take place in August.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the three candidates for King County Sheriff met with the press, and you can read a little about them here. You can also attend forums to hear them yourself on Monday, April 18 at 6pm and Thursday, April 21 at 9am. Erica Barnett reported the following about candidate Interim Sheriff Cole-Tindall.
On a press call just now, we (or maybe just I!) learned that if interim King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall is appointed permanent sheriff, she’ll have to go back through the police academy, a 19-week commitment, during which @kcexec would likely have to appoint someone else.