KCSO Sheriff

Seattle To Get Alternate Response Service in…2024? 2025?

News from the Seattle Mayor’s Office

This week my favorite podcast, Hacks & Wonks, featured a conversation between host Crystal Fincher and Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell on the topic of public safety. I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast or reading the transcript to get insight into what the Mayor’s Office is thinking at this time, but I’ll pull out a few highlights for you.
First, it sounds like the Mayor’s Office is serious about instituting a new third department of public safety to go along with the fire and police departments. While this idea sounds great in theory, the timeline is less inspiring: Senior Deputy Harrell said they hoped to have a white paper on this by the end of the year (2022), would then begin structuring the department in 2023, with hopes of deploying the new department in 2024. If the Mayor’s Office decided to work with existing community groups, much of this work could be expedited, but that doesn’t seem to be the way they’re leaning at this moment.
If that timeline makes you feel sad, the news only gets worse from there. When asked about the current SPOG contract negotiations, Senior Deputy Harrell said the priority for this contract is definitely accountability; one reason for this, of course, is the Mayor’s desire to exit the consent decree. [She] went on to say: “…some people will want to jump ahead and say, well, let’s negotiate what the third department looks like and the trading off of those roles. The police contract is only three years and we’re already one year into a three-year contract. We can negotiate the roles of that next contract in the next cycle.”
Let’s break that down a bit, shall we? The contract currently being negotiated will run till the end of 2023. The subsequent contract could easily take another year or more to negotiate, meaning it might not be done until the end of 2024 or even into 2025, which would be after the next mayoral election. Any related state legislation is likely to focus on accountability, not alternate response, at least if we’re going by past years’ efforts. So we might be waiting several years before bargaining about alternate responses could bear fruit.
Another option not discussed on this podcast episode might be making the argument that SPD cannot currently meet its functions due to its staffing shortage, making alternate response necessary to meet the public safety obligations in the City’s Charter. UW saw some success in defending its recent alternate response against officers’ objections, although it used a different defense due to its status as an educational institution. Regardless, alternate response in Seattle continues to face an uphill battle.
Well, you might say, at least we’ll get a better contract as it pertains to accountability. But Senior Deputy Harrell says, “It will probably take us, it will take us more than this contract to get to a fully civilianized team, investigative team at OPA.” So keep those expectations lowered for now.

Seattle News

Seattle City Council is expected to vote on the resolution and legislation about SPD hiring incentives/moving costs/etc. next Tuesday, May 24 at 2pm. You can give public comment at the meeting or call/email your council members to give feedback. More information and scripts are here.
Also on Tuesday is the next Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting at 9:30am. The agenda has not yet been released, but we might be hearing from the Mayor’s Office about their work on analyzing alternate response, as detailed above.
At this week’s council briefing CM Herbold reported the OPA Director search committee will be meeting again sometime this week and is getting ready to start interviewing candidates.
Carolyn Bick has released a few valuable Twitter threads recently. One of them is a live tweet of this week’s CPC meeting:
CE Bick
Today’s @SeaCPC meeting agenda has a review and vote on an MAR for Terry Caver and a “community conversation” regarding stop-and-frisk (and, presumably, the racial disparity data in the Monitor’s most recent Comprehensive Assessment). Meeting 🧵
https://t.co/qEs0fXduds

The other is a helpful overview of Monitor Oftelie’s Comprehensive Assessment of the SPD submitted to the court overseeing the consent decree. For more about the assessment, you can also read Will Casey’s scathing review, which he concludes with the fiery “This is all to say that when you bungle the only tool that could theoretically compel at least some real police reform, you don’t leave accountability advocates many options other than Becoming Abolitionists.”

CE Bick
Okay! As promised, here is a longer thread breaking down the revamped @monitor_seattle @AntonioOftelie‘s Comprehensive Assessment (May 2022). 1/
https://t.co/BVlGUi7jtw

Meanwhile, Carolyn Bick also received three leaked communications for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office regarding that pesky Seattle Human Rights Commission voting to apply for amicus status with the federal court overseeing the consent decree. It looks like someone really doesn’t want that to happen. Two commissioners have been forced to resign following the vote, as their employers deemed their service to constitute a conflict of interest. Exactly what the Seattle Human Rights Commission will do going forward remains unclear.

State and County News

If you’re interested in the new 988 service being rolled out in July, there was a great piece about a recent fact-finding mission to Arizona led by legislators Manka Dhingra and Tina Orwall who want to overhaul the way Washington State deals with mental health crises. “Senator Dhingra’s ultimate goal involves standing up a statewide crisis response infrastructure that operates 24/7 with enough capacity to treat every person who needs medical help during a crisis.”
And Crosscut‘s Brandon Block wrote a piece about American Rescue Plan Act money (federal relief money due to the pandemic) being used by local jurisdictions for law enforcement, including: buying new squad cars, buying new body cameras, giving $10k retention bonuses to sheriff’s deputies in Pierce County, paying officer salaries, and buying new tasers. Not exactly the first use of money that comes to mind when thinking about addressing the huge amount of need that has arisen as a result of the pandemic.
Oh, and the King County Council confirmed Patti Cole-Tindall as King County Sheriff yesterday.

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Seattle To Get Alternate Response Service in…2024? 2025? Read More »

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.

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More on data and disparity in Seattle’s policing and criminal legal systems

Seattle News

Guy Oron reports that data from the Seattle Municipal Court shows the City Attorney’s Office has disproportionately prosecuted Black and Indigenous people during the first three months of 2022. 31.7% of the people charged were Black during these months, compared to 7.1% of the total Seattle population.
Speaking of the City Attorney’s Office, it sounds like it is struggling to deal with a large number of misdemeanor cases, leading to this week’s announcement that they are dismissing 2,000 misdemeanor cases. They will be making the argument to City Council that they need more funding in the mid-year supplemental budget to hire more staff to address the backlog of cases, starting with a presentation discussing the backlog at next week’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting.
Also scheduled for the Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting on Tuesday, April 26 at 9:30am will be the continued discussion about hiring incentives for police officers. There will be an opportunity at the beginning of this meeting for public comment or you can call or email your council members to give them your feedback about this proposal.
At this week’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold reported on the finding in the Court Monitor’s recent use of force assessment, saying that SPD had looked into the matter of officers failing to report subjects’ race and discovered a technical error was responsible for the lack of data, which the officers actually had been reporting. SPD expects to correct the error. The assessment relies completely on SPD-reported data to come to its conclusions.
The CPC released a statement yesterday stating its concerns over this data error, saying “Concerns about data validity underscore larger issues, namely that SPD manages its own data and conducts its own self-reporting, as well as how the Federal Monitor has been overly dependent on SPD data.” They went on to recommend an independent data management body to increase transparency and trust with the community and are calling for a special meeting with the Monitor and SPD about the data malfunction. In regards to the ongoing consent decree, they say:
By painting an inaccurate picture of the realities of communities who are disproportionately impacted by policing, the Monitor and SPD are losing sight of a key goal of police accountability. Further, by relying on inaccurate race data and while prematurely pushing end the Consent Decree, the Federal Monitor and SPD are dismissing the real harm and impact of Seattle policing on communities of color.
The OIG recently released a report finding the OPA routinely dismissed public complaints about SPD officers not wearing masks as required, finding this noncompliance was a “cultural problem” within the department. As Erica Barnett reported, the OPA didn’t sustain any of the 98 complaints about officers not following the mask mandate, and supervisors rarely disciplined officers even after their fourth or fifth violations of the mask mandate. The report itself says:
“Director Myerberg stated that no one in headquarters wore masks and related that someone had sent OPA a photo of multiple lieutenants, captains, and chiefs celebrating an event at headquarters without any masks. Director Myerberg explained that he perceived the mask non-compliance as indicative of a serious culture issue within SPD and stated that it was not sustainable for OPA to be the ‘thought police’ of the Department.”
Erica Barnett attempted to get a statement from Andrew Myerberg, but: “a spokesman for Harrell’s office referred questions about Myerberg’s role in dismissing mask complaints to the OPA, saying, “Public Safety Director Myerberg does not comment on his past role and previous OPA work.””
If you would like to sign up to participate in dialogues between community and police that are being conducted by Seattle University through their Micro-Community Policing Plan Research Team, you can do so here.
If you’re interested in getting some additional insight about media coverage and how reporting tends to dehumanize and criminalize people who are houseless, struggling with mental illness and/or addiction, Tobias Coughlin-Bogue wrote a piece about recent local coverage in Real Change that you may want to check out.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about what happened at this week’s CPC meeting, CE Bick linked to a video recording and did a Twitter thread, which starts here:
CE Bick
I was unable to attend yesterday’s @SeaCPC meeting, but I wanted to create a thread about it in light of yesterday’s press release (QT below). 🧵 1/ https://t.co/ZE1WzEV72d

King County News

This week King County held its two public forums with the three final candidates for King County Sheriff. At this morning’s forum, eyebrows were raised when candidate Charles Kimble, Police Chief from Killeen, Texas, suggested that an innovation for King County to consider might be a program that would provide bumper stickers for people to be able to inform police they have a mental illness. Of course, these stickers also proclaim that same information to the general public. One wonders if support of such a problematic program might lower Charles Kimble’s chances of receiving the final offer.

Erica C. Barnett
I’ve been watching the King County Sheriff candidate forums (#2 is happening now) and nothing much jumped out until one of the finalists, Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble, touted a program that provides bumper stickers for people to inform police they have a mental illness.

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The Police Hiring Incentives Conversation Continues

Seattle News

Lots of news pieces of note to go over today!

Amy Sundberg
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.
CE Bick
Reading through Federal Monitor @AntonioOftelie‘s prelim assessment of SPD’s uses of force. This item stuck out to me, because my recent story in the @SoSeaEmerald from last Thursday revealed the former OPA director may have retroactively approved an untrained force tactic. https://t.co/F8wgih0cTx
CE Bick
The @SeaCPC is now starting its Community Engagement Meeting, the last one where @AntonioOftelie will be present. This is the thread about that meeting.
“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.
Erica C. Barnett
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.

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The OPA is Back in the News

OPA News

The South Seattle Emerald is currently conducting a survey asking for readers’ priorities for the new OPA Director, and I highly encourage you to fill it out and be active in this process.
Yesterday morning at the CPC meeting we learned that Director of Public Safety (and former OPA Director) Andrew Myerberg will be shepherding the process of finding the new OPA Director. As Bick also helpfully reminds us in the below thread, Myerberg is currently under investigation by an outside organization hired by the City. It is safe to say that many, including some CPC commissioners, are very unhappy at the large role Myerberg is slated to play in selecting his successor.
CE Bick
Interesting new tidbit from this morning’s @SeaCPC meeting: according to Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell (@RuleSeven) former @SeattleOPA dir. Andrew Myerberg — now dir. of public safety — will be “shepherding” important aspects of the OPA dir. search.
Speaking of Myerberg, Carolyn Bick has released two more articles in their series shining a light on problems with the OPA’s investigation of the 2020 Labor Day protest at SPOG HQ:
Part 1: SPOG Officers ‘Were Ready to Entertain Ourselves’: 2020 Labor Day Protest
Part 2: OPA Interviews Suggest Former OPA Dir. Retroactively Ok’d Out-of-Policy Force Tactic
The Cased Closed Summary (CCS) of this case was finally released back in February of this year. Interestingly, the date on the CCS is April 8, 2021, which begs the question of why it took ten months to make this document public. And as Bick writes at the beginning of Part 1: “Though some of the narrative has been corrected — thus confirming several of the concerns that the whistleblower noted and what the Emerald wrote — this two-part article will help readers understand the many flaws that remain and why the OPA’s claims in the CCS regarding the auditor’s partial certification do not appear to accurately represent the totality of the evidence available that the OPA investigator in charge of this investigation appears to have ignored.”
They continue by highlighting several omissions, weaknesses, and discrepancies in how this case was handled. Following are a few additional key quotations from Part 2. Hendry was the lead OPA investigator on the case.
“In reviewing the interviews Hendry did conduct, not only do all of the officers give false information — false information that the OPA’s DCM appears to try to support, as discussed in the Emerald’s first story on this matter — but it appears that Hendry asked these officers leading questions. The OPA itself admits to these leading questions. When these officers did not give the answers that Hendry appears to have wanted, he allowed the SPOG representatives who were present to effectively give interviews in place of the officers, sometimes at great length.”
“…based on statements from several officers within these OPA interviews, it appears that former OPA Dir. Andrew Myerberg retroactively OK’d the untrained tactic of using the front tires of bicycles as a means to move people and for crowd control directly in response to the events of the 2020 Labor Day protest and the fact that officers used their bikes to repeatedly shove and strike protesters during that event.”
Bick’s reporting continues to highlight the broken nature of Seattle’s current accountability system.

Seattle News

At this week’s Council Briefing, council members discussed the timing for the legislation related to hiring bonuses for SPD officers. This legislation is currently on the agenda for the April 26th Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting (not the 4/12 meeting, as Sarah Nelson will not be present then), and CM Nelson said she expected a committee vote on the issue at the subsequent Public Safety committee meeting on May 10. That would mean a possible Full Council vote on Tuesday, May 17 at the earliest. So mark your calendars now! This legislation would lift the proviso on SPD salary savings and allow SPD to spend this money on hiring bonuses that may not work as designed. Meanwhile, the City still hasn’t budgeted sufficient funds for any significant alternate 911 response program.
At yesterday morning’s CPC meeting, we also learned that the SPMA (Seattle Police Management Association) bargaining process is in its final stages, so it will be interesting to see that contract and how it may have changed from previous contracts.
We also have an interesting analysis from Paul Kiefer–police accountability reporter extraordinaire slated to soon leave Seattle and begin reporting in Delaware–of OPA’s just-released 2021 annual report. Nearly 1,500 misconduct allegations were brought against SPD officers last year, of which almost 20% were regarding unprofessional behavior. Concerns about SPD professionalism tend to avoid drawing much attention from the oversight bodies, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The next most common complaint type was regarding bias. Complaints about use of force fell by more than half from 2020, most likely because of the lack of large-scale protests in 2021. A total four SPD officers were fired in 2021.
Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado, the STAR program that dispatches mental health teams to answer 911 calls has gone so well, the city is massively expanding it. Similar programs are beginning in other Colorado cities as well. While people can call a non-emergency number and specifically request STAR, the 911 dispatchers in Denver are trained to triage STAR calls and dispatch as appropriate. It is noteworthy that since the program began in June 2020, STAR has never called for police backup due to a safety issue, which suggests it’s quite possible to develop a dispatching protocol that works well.
One of the criticisms levied against considering the CAHOOTS model for Seattle is that Eugene, Oregon is a much smaller city. Denver, however, is of a very similar size to Seattle, which makes its success with this program that much more compelling for local advocates of alternate emergency response. That being said, Seattle currently still has no concrete plans for instituting its own STAR-like mental health response program that is independent from the police.
A preview for next week: not only do we have the regular Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday morning 4/12, but on Tuesday evening from 6-8pm is the last CPC community engagement session with Court Monitor Oftelie, during which he will present his assessment on SPD use of force and crowd control. If you would like to weigh in on your opinion about SPD use of force and crowd control tactics, you can sign up to attend this virtual meeting here.

King County News

Today Dow Constantine announced the three finalists for King County Sheriff: King County interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall; Charles Kimble, Killeen, Texas chief of police; and Reginald Moorman, an Atlanta Police Department major. There will be two virtual forums to give the public a chance to meet these candidates; the first is on Monday, April 18 at 6pm and the second is on Thursday, April 21 at 9am. The final decision on the Sheriff is slated to be made by early May.

Redmond News

The City of Redmond is discussing a public safety levy that is being considered for the November ballot. The bulk of this proposed property tax will fund the hiring of more police officers and fire fighters in Redmond, as well as pay for body-worn cameras, with a slight nod towards Mobile Integrated Health and hiring one additional mental health professional co-responder.
Community members of Redmond are being encouraged to take a questionnaire by April 15 to weigh in on their opinions about this levy. There are also two remaining virtual Community Sounding Board meetings you can attend, one later in April and one in May.

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