100 days of action

Former SPD Chief Diaz remains in the news

We’re playing a little bit of catch up, so in this issue we’ll review the news from the first half of July.

Seattle News:

The City Auditor’s Office released a report last week on how the city should optimally respond to overdoses and crime: namely, by implementing a place-based approach to addressing the fentanyl crisis. It suggests measures like activating sidewalks, SPD investigating fatal overdoses, doing more in line with the Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth project, and using evidence-based approaches to drug use like medications, harm reduction, and recovery housing and wrap-around services.

Four female SPD police officers have filed a lawsuit against the city and SPD, alleging a pattern of sexual and racial discrimination, harassment, and a hostile work environment, specifically naming former Chief Adrian Diaz and Lieutenant John O’Neill. They had originally filed a tort claim but are now seeking a jury trial. They say “recent revelations by the former police chief are “inconsequential” to the case.”

According to payroll documents, Diaz is still listed as “chief of police” making a salary of $338,000 per year while he remains on personal leave. His successor, interim Chief Sue Rahr, is making $349,000 a year. 

A profile piece in The Seattle Times reported that Rahr “made two demands of Burgess: First, that she’d be paid like a permanent chief, even though her tenure would likely only last for six months; and second, that neither Burgess nor Harrell nor the City Council would dictate how she ran the place. She must be free to hire and fire.”

A request for help: former SPD Chief Adrian Diaz threatened to sue PubliCola and journalist Erica C. Barnett about an article covering his interview with Jason Rantz in which he came out as gay. As a result, PubliCola has incurred significant legal fees. PubliCola is one of the foremost local news publications in our region, and I encourage you to donate to help them pay their legal fees if you can afford to do so. As Barnett wrote, “If public officials can silence journalists by threatening them with baseless lawsuits, it isn’t just one publication that’s vulnerable—it’s any journalist who makes powerful public figures mad by reporting on them, providing analysis, and holding them accountable.”

The three police accountability partners–the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and the Community Police Commission (CPC), gave their mid-year reports to City Council last week.

An anonymous letter to the city council, written by a whistleblower from within the OPA, alleges that the OPA and OIG deliberately ignored complaints of harassment and workplace discrimination against former Chief Adrian Diaz. 

The vice president of SPOG, Daniel Auderer, who was taped joking about the death of Jaahnavi Kandula last year, had his Loudermill hearing with interim SPD Chief Sue Rahr last Wednesday. Rahr has 21 days from that date to decide what discipline he will be receiving.

Pierce County prosecutors are deciding whether to charge SPD’s Deputy Chief Eric Barden for domestic violence. They are also looking into the serious allegation that Barden asked a Pierce County deputy to include false information in a police report, relating to a different domestic violence incident. Barden has been provisionally added to the Brady list, and after an internal investigation by SPD, Pierce County will decide whether he will remain on the list. The Seattle Times reports that “the court documents reveal a bitter back-and-forth breakup between Barden and the woman, with allegations of abuse on both sides.” 

Seattle appears to be pushing forward with a deal with the SCORE jail in Des Moines, so expect more news about this later in the summer. 

King County and Washington State News:

I don’t think I can put it any better than King5’s headline: Washington sees overall decrease in 2023 crimes despite worst officer staffing rate in US

Washington decided to suspend intakes at two juvenile rehabilitation facilities: Echo Glen’s Children’s Center and Green Hill School. Instead of entering these facilities, children will be held at county facilities until population numbers drop. We can expect to see this decision have impacts at the King County youth jail, as the facility is already at pre-pandemic population and suffering from understaffing. The youth jail was not designed with extended stays in mind and has already come under fire for over-using solitary confinement to deal with its staffing woes. 

On Friday, forty-three men over age 21 were transferred from Green Hill to adult prisons. In May, the King County Department of Public Defense filed a petition that conditions of confinement at Green Hill had reached the point of being “unconstitutionally cruel.” According to Washington State law, the forty-three men should have been held in juvenile detention facilities (such as Green Hill) until age 25. Columbia Legal Services sued the state department back in 2022 for unlawfully transferring three men without due process and are currently looking at their options for enforcing the settlement agreement. 

Last week King County and Seattle announced the beginning of their 100 Days of Action against gun violence. King County has pledged $1.6 million to be spent during the 100 days on community-based violence intervention programs and the Harborview hospital-based intervention program. King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay announced a proposal to allocate $1 million for a longer-term gun violence prevention strategy; this legislation will be voted on by the King County Council on Tuesday. More on this from me soon.

Recent Headlines:

Former SPD Chief Diaz remains in the news Read More »

License Plate Reader Expansion Moves Forward in Seattle; if Approved, Will Represent the Largest Deployment of the Technology in Washington State

Seattle News:

At the public safety meeting on Tuesday, councilmembers voted to pass the legislation to greatly expand license plate readers (ALPRs) out of committee, with Councilmember Moore abstaining. In a blast from the past, I live tweeted much of that agenda item of the meeting

The legislation will now head to full Council for a final vote. CM Moore indicated she would be putting forward separate legislation that would limit the license plate data storage to 48 hours. As the legislation currently stands, SPD would retain the data for 90 days, which would be a reasonable timeframe for outside entities to subpoena for the data from Axon, who will be storing the data. It is unclear how much support this legislation will garner from her colleagues.

One of the more bizarre moments of the meeting was when Chair Bob Kettle stated that if there were going to be any privacy problems with the license plate data, mainstream media such as the LA Times, Seattle Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN would have reported on it. Data provided by the ACLU and UW appeared to be unacceptable. This seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding about how the mainstream media and university research operate. 

He also stated Seattle has the best accountability system in the country, which is a bold thing to say given this very system has been crippled since its founding by the SPOG contract.

Andrew Engelson of PubliCola conducted an interview with new interim Chief of SPD Sue Rahr last week. Some key points:

  • Rahr said it breaks her heart that SPD officers don’t feel they’re being embraced by the community: “The officers were—I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t want to say hurt, that sounds a little bit melodramatic. But they want to work with the community and they feel like the community is rejecting them.”
  • She said she wasn’t making command staff changes right now, but would make them if she felt it necessary. She didn’t appear to hold much credence for accusations that command staff were retaliating against officers or weaponizing OPA complaints.
  • She said that because we live in a sexist society, of course our police department is sexist, but didn’t acknowledge any particular issues that might make police departments more susceptible to misogyny than any other institution. She said she wants to focus on the staffing crisis.
  • She doesn’t know what her decisions regarding Officers Auderer and Dave will be, and she said she hasn’t read the reports yet.
  • She said she would support a city contract with another jail (besides King County Jail) if that’s what’s needed to allow for booking of minor misdemeanors that officers feel are necessary.

The death of the student shot at Garfield High School last week, Amarr Murphy-Paine, has rocked the community. There will be a Unity Walk this Thursday at 6pm starting at Jimi Hendrix Park and ending at Garfield High, organized by Pastor Lemuel Charleston and Apostle James Sears. Sears is the Murphy-Paine family’s pastor. 

Other News:

In King County Executive Dow Constantine’s State of the County address yesterday, he proposed “100 Days of Action” to prevent gun violence. The relatively new King County Regional Office of Gun Violence Prevention will be coordinating this work. He said Mayor Bruce Harrell is in agreement and will be making an announcement later this week to advance the collaboration, which would include supporting youth mental health. As always, I am interested in how many resources will be allocated by the county and city to this initiative, as more investment in gun violence prevention is urgently needed.

In a large Washington Post investigation, journalists identified at least 1,800 law enforcement officers who were charged with crimes involving child sexual abuse between 2005 and 2022. “​​When pressed by The Post, some police officials, prosecutors and judges admitted that they could have done more to hold officers accountable in the cases they handled. But nationwide, there has been little reckoning over child abusers within the ranks of law enforcement.”

Nearly 40% of convicted officers avoid prison sentences, and many used threats of arrest or physical harm to make their victims comply. A national tracking system for officers accused of child sexual abuse does not currently exist.

Recent Headlines:

License Plate Reader Expansion Moves Forward in Seattle; if Approved, Will Represent the Largest Deployment of the Technology in Washington State Read More »