Court Monitor Oftelie

Real Change Reporting Reveals Federal Monitor Oftelie Getting Cozy with SPD

Seattle News

In a fascinating piece of reporting in Real Change, Glen Stellmacher wrote about how SPD and the City of Seattle controlled the media narrative around the 2020 protests and the Defund Movement. I highly recommend reading the entire article, but here are some key points:

  • In a June 19, 2020 survey, SPD leadership recommended at least 12 areas of service within SPD that would be better with civilian employees.
  • In the face of defund demands, SPD claimed they would have to cut the SW precinct, SWAT, or traffic enforcement if cuts went too far. However, this narrative was shown to be false by both the June 19, 2020 and June 27, 2020 surveys of SPD leadership.
  • By August 2020, SPD and the City were aware that 45% of SPD patrol service hours didn’t require an officer. However, Mayor Durkan requested a second IDT; the results, not available until June 2021, also said nearly half of calls could be handled by a civilian response. At that point, you may remember SPD insisted on a risk managed demand report, which wasn’t completed until September 2022.
  • SPD played with the numbers to make the loss of diversity in the force, should there be layoffs, seem as bad as possible.
  • It appears then-SPD Chief Strategy Officer Chris Fischer may have ghost-written a Crosscut op-ed for Antonio Oftelie; Crosscut says they didn’t know SPD was involved and has since removed the op-ed from their site. Two days after publication, SPD’s Executive Director of Legal Affairs was pushing for Oftelie to be named the new Monitor of the consent decree. He was named the new Monitor the next month, beating out several qualified candidates. 

This Sunday, July 23 from 12-7pm in Othello Park, there will be a Participatory Budgeting cookout to launch the idea collection phase of participatory budgeting. You can also submit a proposal here.

In a court ruling this week, a judge ruled the City of Seattle has been using an overbroad definition of “obstruction” to justify its sweeps activity, writing that it constitutes “cruel punishment.” The definition was expanded in 2017, increasing obstruction removals in the City. The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in September.

On Tuesday, an SPD officer shot a man downtown. SPD is supposed to release video footage of what happened within 72 hours.

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) is investigating the incident of the mock tombstone of a man killed by SPD police displayed in an SPD breakroom. Chief Diaz has ordered inspections of precinct HQs for other potential inappropriate displays. At a CPC meeting this week, Chief Diaz had very little information to share.

And finally, it’s supplemental budget time! The proposed supplemental budget includes around $815k in additional funding for SPD, including increasing overtime to pay for more downtown emphasis patrols, paying for additional online crime reporting, and hiring six civilian positions, including four new public disclosure officers. It also adds an additional $19 million for the City to pay for lawsuits, many of which are related to police misconduct. The City already added $11 million to the 2023 for lawsuits last year, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

In addition, the supplemental budget funds a graffiti clean-up team, and because the contracts have already been executed, the Mayor’s Office has potentially forced the Council’s hand into cutting other Seattle Public Utilities programs to pay for this. More money is also being requested for the CSCC for its dual dispatch pilot and updating its call center technology and for OIG to take over the consent decree’s Monitor duties. 

There is a vote scheduled on the supplemental budget on the morning of August 2. 

Recent Headlines

Real Change Reporting Reveals Federal Monitor Oftelie Getting Cozy with SPD 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 »