January 2022

The WA State Legislature session is heating up

WA State Legislature News

There are lots of bills that you can support this week! Hopefully having them listed all in one place will make your life a little bit easier.
First, HB 1756 (solitary confinement) has a hearing in the House Appropriations committee on tomorrow at 3:30pm.
Next is SB 5919, which would expand the use of high-speed vehicular pursuits, lower the expectations for officer de-escalation, and expand the use of physical force by officers. Fun times! People Power Washington – Police Accountability opposes this bill.
Next is SB 5485, which would end traffic stops for certain low-level violations. It has a hearing in the Senate Transportation committee on Thursday, February 3 at 4pm. It is a bit late in the session to get this bill through, but it’s still important to signal support.
Lastly, HB 1788 and HB 2037 are scheduled for an executive session in the House Public Safety Committee on Thursday, February 3rd at 10am. HB 1788 lowers the threshold for when officers can engage in high-speed vehicular chases, and HB 2037 would allow officers to use force anytime someone is fleeing from a Terry stop. People Power Washington – Police Accountability opposes these bills, as does the Washington Coalition of Police Accountability. You can email the members of the Public Safety committee to urge them to NOT to pass these two bills out of committee. Email addresses and a script are available here.
There is also a rally against all these rollbacks planned for Thursday, February 3 at the Capitol building in Olympia at 11am.

Seattle News

Even more information about what was going on behind the scenes during the summer 2020 protests was revealed by the Seattle Times this weekend. As the article states: “The summer of 2020 was an impactful period, yet many City Hall deliberations — such as work on a potential East Precinct transfer — happened behind closed doors, leaving journalists and residents in the dark.”
Apparently there was talk in the Mayor’s Office of transferring the East Precinct building to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. A draft resolution to make this happen was prepared for Mayor Durkan’s review. There is some disagreement as to whether FAS drafted the resolution independently due to its director’s “can-do spirit” or whether the Durkan administration contacted FAS to outline the process of transferring the property. Of course, in the end, SPD moved back into the East Precinct on July 1, but the fact that details of that time period keep coming to light more than a year and a half later is very disturbing and speaks to a pervasive lack of transparency between local government and Seattle residents.

Recent Headlines

Seattle's 2022 election season is already heating up | Crosscut

Redmond officer who killed woman had been fired from another law-enforcement agency | The Seattle Times

Behind the scenes in the race for King County prosecutor | Roegner | Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

Much of America wants policing to change. But these self-proclaimed experts tell officers they’re doing just fine.

The WA State Legislature session is heating up Read More »

Gaps in SPD’s Disciplinary System

WA State Legislature News

This year’s WA state legislative session continues at the breakneck pace of a short session.
This Thursday 1/27, the House’s Public Safety committee will be meeting with several bills up for executive session. People Power Washington – Police Accountability encourages you to write to the members of the committee urging them to PASS HB 1507 (the independent prosecutor bill) and to NOT PASS HB 1788 (lowering the threshold of when officers can engage in high-speed vehicular chases). Click here for more information, scripts and email addresses.
Meanwhile it looks like HB 1202 (qualified immunity) is dead in the water for this session.
As expected, a lawsuit was filed last week saying the new legislative maps of Washington violate the federal Voting Rights Act because of the way they split Latino voters in Yakima Valley and Pasco into multiple districts.

Seattle News

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. CM Mosqueda is not present.
There were two agenda items of note on this morning’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting: a consent decree update from Court Monitor Oftelie and the OIG report on their audit of SPD’s disciplinary system.
During the consent decree update, Court Monitor Oftelie touted the remaining two community engagement meetings on stops & detentions and use of force. He confirmed his office uses SPD’s own data in their assessments and implied that collecting any data independently would be too big a drain on resources.
CM Herbold asked about data from 2020 and 2021 not being a good measure because of differing conditions such as the pandemic. Monitor Oftelie was vague on whether running data from the last couple of years would be necessary to determine consent decree compliance, saying his office would be looking to the City Council for guidance. Perhaps most noteworthy was CM Herbold’s remark that there was a use of force “anomaly” in 2020.
The OIG’s audit of SPD’s disciplinary system found that collectively there was a need for improvement. Some interesting highlights:
  • When there’s a range of disciplinary options presented to the Chief, there’s been a preference for the minimum of the range.
  • The OPA director can recommend the Chief meets with complainants but hasn’t actually ever done so.
  • While no recommendations were made about officers with a repeated history of complaints, Lisa Judge said there have been additional questions raised about this.
  • There are more “not sustained” training referrals (with proof that something has in fact been done incorrectly) than there are sustained findings. They researched several other police departments and found all of them would have classified these same findings as sustained. It turns out this was changed in the last few years as a result of SPOG filing a series of grievances regarding this rung of the disciplinary ladder until SPD decided to stop using it. This is important both because sustained findings are recorded differently than not sustained findings, with not sustained training referrals not included in performance appraisals, and because it shows the level of SPOG influence on SPD policy.
  • While SPD employees aren’t allowed to work overtime on days when they are suspended, they can take overtime shifts every other day of the pay period, allowing them to offset suspension days with overtime. SPD believes fixing this would be an issue for collective bargaining.
  • While there haven’t been sufficient arbitration cases to see this in practice, the system as it stands does seem vulnerable to a certain kind of “gaming,” in which one could select an arbitrator for one case with an eye to which arbitrator would then be able to hear the next case.
  • There was a question about the difference between an OIG recommendation versus matters for consideration. Matters for consideration are not currently tracked nor followed up on by the OIG. Two of the main reasons cited for flagging a matter for consideration instead of making a recommendation were if the matter would require collective bargaining or the decision of a policy maker. CM Herbold pushed back on this way of doing things since it decreases accountability.
  • CM Pedersen announced he is now a member of the newly constituted LRPC (Labor Relations Policy Committee).
Meanwhile, at the CPC meeting last week, one of the SPD officers who serves on the CPC was apparently confused as to why there was anything objectionable about the Proud Boys ruse the SPD used in the summer of 2020:
CE Bick
I am currently listening in on the @SeaCPC meeting, and @SeattlePD Officer Mark Mullens just asked what exactly was wrong with the “radio ruse” re: the Proud Boys lie.
Finally, if you’re curious about continuing havoc wrecked by Omicron, Publicola reported on its impact on SPD this month:
On January 12, SPD reported that 124 officers were isolating after testing positive for the virus: more than at any other point during the COVID-19 pandemic, easily surpassing the previous record of 80 officers in quarantine in November 2020. As of last Friday, the number of officers in quarantine had fallen to 85. Nearly 200 SPD employees have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of January, doubling the department’s total number of infections since the start of the pandemic.

Recent Headlines

Fatal shootings by police continue despite a pandemic, protests and pushes for reform - Washington Post

Polling shows a Republican surge in Washington and beyond | Crosscut

Newest member of King County Council says she has no wish list. Not yet. | The Seattle Times

Gaps in SPD’s Disciplinary System Read More »

More Ruse News, Fewer Stops for Traffic Infractions

WA State Legislature News

First up today we have HB 1788, which would un-do reforms made last year with HB 1054 and revert to a previous standard of Reasonable Suspicion for vehicular pursuits. People Power Washington – Police Accountability OPPOSES this bill.
Next up we have several bills up for executive session in the House on this Thursday, January 20: HB1756 (solitary confinement), HB1507 (independent prosecutor), HB1735 (limiting the types of court orders where officers can use force), and HB1719 (clarifies use of certain less lethal weapons). You can email the members of the Public Safety committee to urge them to pass some or all of these bills out of committee. Email addresses and a script are available here.

Seattle News

Carolyn Bick has updated their story on the SPD ruse scandal and it’s worth another read:
According to Converge Media’s Jan. 12 Morning Update show, new Mayor Bruce Harrell said when questioned by Converge Media at a press conference that same morning that none of the EOC staff told him they knew about the ruse or had information about it.
“A couple of days ago, I was at the Office of Emergency Management, talking to its director and its assistant director … and we asked the question, ‘Did you know there was a ruse going on?‘” Harrell said. “As you know, OEM [Office of Emergency Management] was activated … and they said they did not know there was a ruse — which then, in our inquiry, raises some issues, that if they are making tactical decisions based on false information, that is problematic.”
They also included communications from SCSO (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office), including an email sent the day before the ruse took place, in which Sgt. Caterson wrote, “Thus, guys are very concerned about working down there with the current climate, the restrictions/bans, SPD policies and how they differ from our policies, etc. This is coupled with the fact that SPD officers are sitting around their respective precincts while other agencies are working their city.” This is relevant because the SPD Captain involved with planning the ruse later stated he did so after “all our mutual aid partners … had abandoned us.”
SPD Chief Diaz announced on Friday that SPD will no longer stop people for four minor traffic infractions:
  • not wearing a bicycle helmet
  • missing, expired, or improperly displayed registration
  • cracked windshields
  • items hanging from the rear-view mirror
None of these infractions pose a serious risk to safety, according to experts, and the Chief has said it’s possible other infractions will be added to the list in the future. It’s important to note this policy shift might not result in much of a change on the ground, as SPD staffing issues have already meant less policing in this area.
On Thursday Mayor Harrell announced he wants to create a third public safety department for unarmed responders who are well-trained in de-escalation techniques. While this brings up the question as to why this couldn’t simply be housed in the already existing CSCC (Community Safety and Communications Center), the location and name of such a department is less important than its getting stood up in the first place–as long as it remains independent from SPD.

Recent Headlines

More Ruse News, Fewer Stops for Traffic Infractions Read More »

More State Bills to Support, More News on the Proud Boys Ruse

WA State Legislature News

First up we have HB 1756, a bill to end (or at least strictly limit) solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is considered to be a form of torture and is currently still practiced in WA state.
We also have HB 1507, a bill to establish an independent prosecutor within the Office of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute any alleged offense involving the use of deadly force by a police officer. This would avoid conflicts of interest with both police investigating police and county prosecutors investigating police with whom they work closely.

Seattle News

In the newest development of the 2020 SPD Proud Boys Hoax, reporter Carolyn Bick uncovered an email from the Seattle Public Utilities’ Emergency Manager in which he discusses an EOC (Emergency Operations Center) meeting he attended on June 8 and said, “SPD is preparing for a possible counter protest at Volunteer Park that could lead to significant volatility in the area. Intelligence reports that the Proud Boys group may be active in the area.” As Bick says, this means: “either other members of SPD were also in on the hoax, or they believed, at this point, that there really were Proud Boys in the City.” This has troubling implications, to say the least, especially since it appears city officials might have fallen for the SPD hoax as well.
Also troubling is that the OPA completely missed this email in their investigation of the Proud Boy ruse. Meanwhile, OPA Director Myerberg has been promoted to Public Safety Director for Seattle. It is unclear exactly how his role will mesh with that of Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell’s, but as Paul Kiefer reports in the Twitter thread below, it seems likely his duties will include contract negotiations with the police unions.
Paul Faruq Kiefer
At a press conference at city hall (happening right now), Mayor Harrell notes that he can’t make comments on the people responsible for the Proud Boys ruse that might influence the Loudermill hearing to which those officers are entitled before SPD determines discipline.

Seattle’s Public Safety committee discussed the Proud Boys ruse at their meeting on Tuesday:

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. The new committee: CM Herbold is chair, and also serving are CMs Lewis, Mosqueda, Petersen, and Nelson.
Also attending the meeting were Director Myerberg, CPC Director Grant, and Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell. Harrell spoke about the importance of focusing on accountability and transparency. CM Lewis reflected on the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Jones in the summer of 2020 in which he determined SPD was specifically targeting protesters and using harsher tactics and more use of force because of the subject of the protests. CM Lewis also pointed to a pattern of people in SPD high command not knowing what was going on.
CM Herbold asked if discipline for officers ought to be left to the Chief, questioning the OPA’s decision to issue findings of “allegation removed” for four named officers involved in the ruse who were further down the chain of command. No solid next steps were outlined in regards to next steps or how these severe accountability issues might be addressed.
Carolyn Bick has also followed up on the 2020 SPOG HQ Labor Day protest story, given the arrest of an involved man late last year. You may remember that in the OPA DCM on this case, there were three different suspects identified by various pieces of clothing. The man arrested, whose name is Moore, was “Tan Gloves” in that DCM. As Bick explains:
Thus, this complaint confirms exactly what the Emerald laid out in that story: Moore was never targeted for arrest, and the OPA incorrectly conflated Moore with what appear to be two other, separate people (though one was never caught on BWV, an issue discussed in said story).

Recent Headlines

More State Bills to Support, More News on the Proud Boys Ruse Read More »

WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD’s Proud Boys “Ruse”

WA State Legislature News

There are several public safety-related bills that I’ll be talking about during the current session of the Washington State Legislature, which opened today. If you live anywhere in Washington State, you are eligible to give your feedback on these bills.
First up we have HB 1202, the qualified immunity bill. This bill would provide a cause of action for victims injured by police officer violence and authorizes the Attorney General to investigate employers (eg police departments) and police officers engaging in particular patterns of conduct.
Next are a couple of bills related to 2021’s HB 1310, which I referred to last year as the de-escalation bill. A big push from the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is to OPPOSE HB 1726, which would change for the standard of use of force from that of established probable cause (this is part of what HB 1310 did) to that of reasonable suspicion that requires no evidence.
HB 1735 also relates to last year’s HB 1310, explicitly stating that police officers are not prevented from helping medical professionals and behavioral health providers and must perform live-saving measures such as medical assistance. The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability supports this bill.
On Thursday, January 13, there will be hearings for both the solitary confinement bill and the independent prosecutor bill, so I’ll send out information on Wednesday for how to register your support and submit written comments about these two bills.
For more information on housing, land use, and digital equity bills you might wish to support, please check out Share the Cities Action Fund’s recent newsletter.

Seattle News

Late last week the OPA released a closed case summary revealing the SPD had engaged in an improper “ruse” during the 2020 summer protests. In this misinformation effort, they fabricated radio chatter about armed Proud Boys marching around downtown Seattle and heading to confront protesters in Capitol Hill, information that was relayed to the protesters, further escalating the situation and undermining the protest.
As The Seattle Times explains: “Police are allowed to use a ruse only when undercover, to acquire information for a criminal investigation or to address “an exigent threat to life safety or public safety.” Even then, state law says a ruse can’t be so “shocking” as to violate “fundamental fairness.” None of those conditions applied to the Proud Boys chatter, Myerberg determined.”
This ruse was covered up and only came to light when journalist Omari Salisbury asked for body camera footage related to this at the end of 2020. The OPA launched an investigation when this footage couldn’t be located , completed in September 2021, but the release of the closed case summary was delayed further until last week. No discipline is likely to result from the case as the two officers who ordered and supervised this misinformation effort have both since left the SPD.
If you would like to share your thoughts about this “ruse” and its subsequent coverup, you have a chance to give public comment at Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 11 at 9:30am. Signups begin tomorrow morning at 7:30am and can be done online here.
Also tomorrow, Tuesday January 11 from 6-8pm is the first of three joint CPC and Court Monitor community engagement meetings. You can get the agenda and Zoom link here. The topic of this month’s meeting is crisis intervention, and there will be a chance for community members to ask questions and speak about what they’d like to see in terms of crisis intervention in the city of Seattle.
That’s all for now, but you’ll hear from me again in a couple of days to talk about a few state bills and more evidence uncovered in the Labor Day 2020 SPOG HQ protest case.

WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD’s Proud Boys “Ruse” Read More »

A New Mayor and New Council Committee Assignments for the New Year

I hope everyone had a nice break because we’re about to be in the thick of it again!

Seattle News

Amy Sundberg
All right, time for the first Seattle City Council meeting of 2022! This isn’t an official live tweet but I’ll post when things happen that I think are interesting.

First up, today Debora Juarez was elected to be the Seattle City Council’s Council President, so from now on, she’ll have a CP in front of her name. In spite of predictions to the contrary, she left CM Herbold as the Chair of Public Safety and Human Services, and it will remain on its old meeting schedule of every other Tuesday morning. Here is the full committee assignment roster and schedule, provided by Erica C. Barnett of Publicola:

In an address this morning, new Mayor Harrell made a few comments about public safety in Seattle:
Paul Faruq Kiefer
In his swearing-in speech, Harrell says that a “safe city needs the right kind and right number of police officers.” That number will be a biiig question mark in the coming years. Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell will be the point person on the issue of policing.
Paul Faruq Kiefer
Harrell also seems to have refined the “different kind of police officer” he mentioned during the campaign into an “unarmed alternative responder” – not unfamiliar language, but more closely resembling what the council discussed last year.
This is another signal Mayor Harrell remains interested in alternate emergency response. He also said he wanted to give interim SPD Chief Diaz a chance to have his performance assessed at the job and will decide by the end of Q1 whether he’s going to conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief.
In other news, Court Monitor Oftelie and the CPC have announced three joint community engagement meetings: one each in January, February, and March. The first meeting will be next Tuesday, January 11 at 6pm, covering the topic of crisis intervention and focusing on the following three questions:
  • What ideas on policy and practices, systems, measures, and/or general innovations and change do you have to improve policing services for the City of Seattle?
  • What new policies, research, and/or general innovations should the Seattle Community Policing Commission pursue in 2022?
  • What policy and practice areas, if any, should the Federal Monitor oversee implementation on in 2022?
If you are interested in public safety in Seattle, I highly recommend attending this meeting. The other two meetings will be a discussion on stops and detentions on February 8 and a discussion on use of force on March 8.

WA State Legislative News

The next state legislative session begins on Monday, January 10–less than a week away! In the wake of the ongoing Omicron wave, it’s been announced that the session will once again be virtual, which is great news for everyone who would like to weigh in on legislative issues without hauling themselves out to Olympia on a weekday.
In addition to lawmakers going back to the table to take another look at HB 1310 and HB 1054, which were passed last session, other possible public safety bills that may be discussed include an independent prosecutor bill, a police discipline bill, a qualified immunity bill, a traffic stops bill, and a solitary confinement bill. There’s also a bill regarding odd year elections that should prove interesting. Expect more on these bills soon!

Recent Headlines

Man jailed for 9 years sues King County, Redmond after acquittal in killing: ‘I lost a lot’ | The Seattle Times

Editorial: Yes, there are problems with Prop. 47 and $0 bail. Just not what you think - Los Angeles Times

Inside District Attorney Jose Garza’s campaign to reform Austin’s police department - Washington Post

Family outraged after Tacoma police chief clears 2 of the officers involved in Manuel Ellis’ death | The Seattle Times

Kent assistant police chief disciplined for posting Nazi insignia and joking about the Holocaust | The Seattle Times

Council's ban on "less-lethal" weapons will be early test for Harrell as SPD waits for guidance

A New Mayor and New Council Committee Assignments for the New Year Read More »