911 call analysis

It’s Police Union Contract Negotiation Time in King County

Seattle News


The tensions between CMs Herbold and Nelson over SPD hiring incentives continued this week at both Council Briefing and the Full Council meeting. CM Nelson spent the bulk of her Council Briefing time talking about it, in fact, including offering the claim that she had the approval of the Executive (a claim that Publicola fact-checked and found a bit misleading.) However, CM Herbold prevailed, meaning the Public Safety committee will vote on both CM Nelson’s resolution and CM Herbold’s legislation next week on 5/10, while CM Nelson’s conflicting legislation will not receive a vote until a later date (if at all). If you would like to give public comment on 5/10 about this issue or email your council members, you can find some talking points here.
Also originally on the schedule for the 5/10 meeting is the report on SPD’s analysis of 911 calls and which types could be fielded with non-police response. If this schedule plan stands, the meeting will be jam-packed.
CM Herbold also reported the first meeting of the search committee for the new OPA director happened last Friday 4/29.
When asked where they think the city should direct its resources to deal with crime, 92% of respondents said funding for more addiction and mental health services. Eighty-one percent want to see more de-escalation training for police officers, 80% want more social programs to address crime’s root causes, 75% want to add more nonpolice staffing, and 73% want to see an increase in court staffing to process the caseload.
Particularly striking is that 92% of respondents wanted to see more funding go to addiction and mental health services, suggesting a broad base of support for scaling up the City’s offerings in these areas. Respondents were fairly equally divided between thinking crime is underreported in the media, overly reported in the media, or accurately reported in the media.
Meanwhile, in consent decree news, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office appears to have tried to pressure the Seattle Human Rights Commission into not seeking amicus curiae status on the consent decree.
CE Bick
NEW: Federal Monitor @AntonioOftelie just filed to extend the deadline for filing his compliance status update for the @CityofSeattle to May 13, in order to allow for “additional time for the Monitor and parties to validate the data in the Comprehensive Assessment, 1/

The Monitor’s compliance status update deadine was extended until May 13 (next Friday). This apparently has to do with the data error I reported on here; while the error is being fixed, there is speculation that the new data might rise additional questions. Stay tuned!

King County News

The bargaining process with KCPOG (King County Police Officer Guild) has begun. Once an agreement on a new contract is reached, it will need to be accepted or rejected by the King County Council. This contract will determine how much authority OLEO (Office of Law Enforcement Oversight) will have to hold officers accountable for misconduct, as well as the transparency and fairness of the disciplinary process. People Power Washington – Police Accountability has drafted some priorities for what should be included in this contract, and I encourage you to email your King County council members and let them know that you care about this issue. You can find more information and talking points here.
King County released its poll on “Reimagining Public Safety in Urban Unincorporated King County,” and as Will Casey pointed out in The Stranger, “More than half of the written comments from people surveyed expressed a desire to have an unarmed behavioral health professional available to respond to emergencies.” The County will spending around $500k to fund pilots for alternate emergency response programs that they expect to launch in mid-2022. Let’s hope Seattle isn’t far behind.
Earlier this week Executive Dow Constantine announced his choice for the next King County Sheriff, Patti Cole-Tindall, who is currently serving as interim Sheriff. The King County Council will vote on whether to confirm this nomination later this month.
Meanwhile, over in Bothell, which straddles King and Snohomish Counties, the City Council has voted 5-2 to approve federal funding of police body cameras.
#VeryAsian #American Han Tran
Bothell City Council voted 5-2 to approve federal funding of police body cameras while we were out protesting for abortion rights. 1/

If you’d like to learn more about police-worn body cameras and why their usage can be problematic, you can read more here.

Washington State News

Yet another survey of 832 Washingtonians (‘tis the season) found majority support (53%) for Initiative 1992, which is currently collecting signatures to be placed on the ballot later this year and would decriminalize drugs (while allowing cops to continue to seize them) and allocate $141m in pot revenues to drug outreach and recovery services. You can read a little more about it over at The Stranger.

Recent Headlines

City Attorney Prioritizes Rhetoric Over Results in Community Court Crusade - Slog - The Stranger

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Seattle City Council Budget Meetings 7/8/20

I am now going to do my best to summarize the five hours of budget meetings that took place earlier today. Here is the Twitter thread, which is very long.

We began with a panel presentation by community experts including Angélica Chazaro from Decriminalize Seattle and Kristania De Leon from the Participatory Budget Project on defunding the police department and creating a participatory budget process for the city of Seattle. Ms. Chazaro said the time for police reform has passed because more training and more accountability hasn’t improved the situation. Therefore, they’re asking the City Council to cut 50% of the remaining SPD budget for this year. It’s worth noting the SPD has expanded by 43% in the last ten years. She laid out where they recommend cuts (hiring freeze, cut sworn officer jobs, cut PR, training programs, end overtime pay, etc.) and what to invest in instead:

  1. Replacing the 911 system with a civilian-led system independent from the police department
  2. Scale up community solutions
  3. Invest in housing for all
  4. Fund a community-led process to create a roadmap to life without police

We have several community organizations that can be scaled up to meet a lot of these needs, and we also need to invest in incubating new organizations. The hope for #4 is to create a participatory budget process that can be followed annually to give residents of Seattle a greater voice into how public funds are spent in our city while emphasizing equity. The idea is to start scaling up community solutions, including a new 911 dispatch service, while gradually scaling back SPD in a phased way, with the process starting this year and then continuing in 2021 and beyond.

We then had a presentation on participatory budgeting.

It’s worth noting the CPC (Community Police Commission) has endorsed the idea of defunding SPD by 50%. CM Strauss also noted that it takes about four years to be able to see how new policies are working, so this is a long term project.

SPOG and the police union contract that ends this year were only briefly touched upon, so I’m not sure how much they expect that contract to affect this process. I was surprised that wasn’t further discussed, but it’s possible all the participants of the meeting already understand that aspect of this process.

We then moved onto the 911 call analysis, led by SPD’s Dr. Fisher. Almost half of SPD’s sworn workforce is employed by responding to 911 calls. They can be broken out by criminal vs non-criminal calls, although that classification can be fluid depending on how things develop on the ground, by various call types, and by priority level. You can also classify calls based on number of calls fielded or amount of time spent in response. Criminal calls take a lot more time to deal with. Everyone is concerned with which calls need to be responded to by sworn officers versus which calls could be dealt with by other outside agencies. CM Mosqueda was also interested in figuring out which calls dealt with crimes due to poverty and homelessness. CM Herbold pointed out that outside data from the NYT suggests that calls involving violent crime only make up 1.3% of calls received.

In the afternoon budget session, we went over questions about the Mayor’s proposed revised 2020 budget. We spent a long time discussing homelessness, especially in the context of COVID and trying to move people into non-congregate shelters in order to keep them safe from the virus, especially those at high risk. It’s tough because we need to act quickly and spend a bunch of money on this, but we’re also experiencing a huge budget shortfall so there is some push-and-pull between the council members and the budget office as a result. There is likely to be continued revenue shortfall in 2021 and 2022, so they are going to have to continue to make really hard decisions for the foreseeable future.

Deputy Mayor Ranganathan spoke about the community engagement process for reforming the SPD. She says the community engagement process will work in phases. The first phase will lead to the Mayor introducing her proposed 2021 budget in late September, at which point they’ll launch into a phase of reimagining public safety and also figuring out how to allocate the $100m the Mayor has promised to BIPOC communities. Where that $100m is coming from remains unclear. CM Mosqueda asked for this timeline to be provided in writing and pressed this request, which the Deputy Mayor ultimately agreed to. She also flagged that it’s important to talk carefully about what community demands actually are and to work with organizations that have community trust and long-standing relationships with their communities, which I think might have been a shot at the Mayor haphazardly meeting with some organizations and not others in recent weeks.

Now the City Council is supposed to come up with their own recommendations about how to amend or reallocate funds within the revised 2020 budget. They will continue to have budget meetings every Wednesday until the end of July, and are hoping to vote on the revised 2020 budget at the beginning of August.

A lot of ground was covered today. The SPD budget is complicated, and figuring out how to best defund the police department and reallocate those funds is a huge job. There are lots of details in the linked documents and my Twitter thread if you’re interested, but this is all still at a very preliminary stage. I will say it’s encouraging that we’re even able to have this conversation right now, something that was politically impossible just a few months ago.

In the meantime, I’m almost done with my overview of the history of the police in the US, so I should have that out to you by the end of the week. I looked at several sources, thinking this history might be somewhat controversial, but there seems to be a lot of agreement on the main points. Hopefully this piece will help give some context for the situation regarding the police that we find ourselves in today.



Seattle City Council Budget Meetings 7/8/20 Read More »