PEOs

Will Seattle Pay SPOG a Premium to Let Others Help SPD with its Staffing Woes?

Seattle News

Most of this week has been elections, elections, elections. As of this writing, a few Seattle councilmember races are still too close to call, but we’re seeing a definitive shift to the right.

It looks like CM Mosqueda will be moving over to the King County Council next year, and she has announced she intends to step down from Seattle City Council at the beginning of next year, when the new Council will be able to appoint a replacement. In the meantime, she’ll be busy getting the 2024 budget passed as well as finishing up other budget work.

SPD Detective Cookie Boudin has followed up her spring tort claim by suing the City. She is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, saying she’s spent her whole career dealing with a pattern of racist harrassment. The trial date has been set for November 4, 2024. 

KUOW reported that a cooking show/class at PCC hosted by SPD Chief Diaz and special guest former Chief Best cost the city $2000 in overtime this past Saturday, as five other SPD employees were paid to attend: two bodyguards, a community outreach officer, a patrol officer, and an executive assistant. Four more similar events have been scheduled and in total could cost more than $9000 in overtime. “Current numbers show the department will be between $1.5 to $4.6 million over budget by year end, Jamie Housen, spokesperson with the mayor’s office, wrote by email. He said overtime costs were mostly to blame.”

The Firefighters have reached a tentative contract with the city that isn’t good news for workers. It gives minimum annual wage increases of 2-4%, as well as a 4.5% raise in 2022 and a 5.5% raise in 2023. Given these rates don’t keep up with the rates of inflation during those same years, this represents a wage cut in real terms. This could bode poorly for the Coalition of City Unions, who have currently been offered a 2.5% wage increase. As Erica C. Barnett writes:In contrast, Seattle police officers received a 17 percent pay increase after their last contract negotiation, with retroactive pay increases between 3 and 4 percent a year for the years they worked without a contract. The city council approved hiring bonuses of up to $30,000 for police last year.”

Seattle Budget and the SPOG MOU 

Seattle’s Budget Committee will be meeting on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next week to discuss budget-related legislation and councilmember amendments. Votes on amendments are expected on Tuesday 11/14, with Wednesday’s meeting most likely to consist of discussion of budget proposals and progressive revenue options that aren’t needed to balance the 2024 budget.

There will be an opportunity to give public comment on Monday, November 13 at both 10am and at the public hearing at 5pm. Solidarity Budget will be hosting a budget rally outside City Hall on Monday starting at 4pm. Suggested talking points for public comment and emails are available here.

Solidarity Budget co-hosted a webinar on Wednesday with ACLU Washington on the problems with the ShotSpotter surveillance technology that is currently being given funding in the 2024 budget. You can watch the webinar here, look at the slides, and find more talking points about ShotSpotter here. One of the amendments slated to be voted on next week will require a racial equity toolkit be done on this technology whenever it is moved to a new neighborhood, as opposed to the original plans announced by Senior Deputy Mayor Burgess to only require an omnibus Surveillance Impact Report (SIR). Another amendment would take the $1.5 million currently allocated for this technology and instead spend it on mental health services for tiny house villages, which are currently funded at significantly lower levels in 2024 than they were in 2023.

This week the city also announced a proposal for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG). You can read the Central Staff memorandum on the MOU on page 42 and the full text of the MOU on page 51 of this packet.

The MOU accomplishes three things:

  • It would allow the city flexibility to sometimes use parking enforcement officers to staff special events.
  • It would allow the city to implement its dual dispatch emergency alternative response program. In spite of all the hype around the launch of this pilot, it turns out that until and unless this MOU is agreed upon, police can actively request CARE members only after they’ve arrived at and secured a site for Wellness Check and Person Down Calls, meaning it’s not even a true dual dispatch yet.
  • It would allow the city to use park rangers at parks outside of the downtown area.

There are several problematic aspects of the MOU. Perhaps the biggest one is the agreement to give officers who volunteer to staff special events an additional $225 bonus for each shift worked (in addition to any relevant overtime pay). This bonus is projected to cost $8 million in additional funds through the end of 2025. So here we have a situation in which firefighters are taking a pay cut in real terms if they accept their proposed contract while police officers are getting further bonuses beyond overtime for working special events, increasing SPD’s budget bloat even further at the expense of other core city services.

The rationale behind this odd choice is that right now SPD can only staff these special events through mandatory overtime, which is putting a strain on their workforce. But SPOG is only willing to give these officers relief by allowing other people to do some of the special events work if their officers get paid an extra bonus. Meanwhile, SPD once again went significantly over their overtime budget this year and yet are still willing to spend $2000 in overtime for a cooking class, as mentioned above. 

I’ll also note that once a new section involving extra pay is added to police guild contracts, it tends to be very, very difficult to remove later. Not to mention that this doesn’t appear to show particularly good negotiating tactics on the part of the city, who are still working with SPOG to agree upon a new contract almost three years after its expiration.

Another problematic aspect of the MOU has to do with the new dual dispatch pilot. This MOU restricts the number of responders that can be hired by CARE to 24 FTEs, meaning SPOG gets to determine the size of the pilot. It restricts the call types to which they can respond to only Person Down and Welfare Check calls, hence the Director’s reluctance to suggest response to any other call types. In addition, according to the MOU, dispatching CARE responders is not to affect the number of police dispatched to any given call. And CARE responders will be required to write a report that is available to SPD officers, which could potentially dissuade people who are already wary of the police from being willing to use this new program.

The budget amendment funding this MOU will be voted on next week and provide $4.5 million of funding to cover SPD special event bonuses for October thru December of this year and 2024. It is unclear how this extra expenditure will be balanced in the budget. The legislation related to the MOU will be on the Introduction & Referral calendar on November 21 and is expected to be voted on at Full Council sometime during the first half of December.

Recent Headlines:

Will Seattle Pay SPOG a Premium to Let Others Help SPD with its Staffing Woes? Read More »

Will ShotSpotter CCTV Cameras Roam Seattle’s Streets Next Year?

Seattle Budget News

Budget-Associated Events

If you’re interested in learning more about Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI), you can view the presentation and panel of local experts from this week here. If you’d like to contact your councilmembers in support of a publicly funded GBI program in Seattle, you can find talking points here.

If you’d like to read talking points from the Seattle Solidarity Budget, you can read them here. These should be updated to reflect new information learned during issue identification by the end of the day Monday.

Seattle Solidarity Budget is also hosting a virtual public comment workshop on Monday, October 16 from 6-7:30pm. An overview of Solidarity Budget’s call to action will be provided, as well as help writing up and giving public comment. You can register here.

There are two chances to give public comment related to the budget next week. A public hearing for public comment will be held on Wednesday, October 18 at 5pm. CM Nelson also pushed strongly for a public comment period to be added to the budget meeting on Monday, October 16 at 10am. As always, you can also email or call your councilmembers and share your budget priorities and concerns with them.

Investments associated with the New War on Drugs Bill

I finally have a breakdown on the plan for the $7 million for capital costs and $1.4 million for services that Mayor Harrell promised during the discussion of the New War on Drugs bill. 

The $7 million will be spent on two facilities; we’ve already spoken about the post-overdose site at some length, but the other facility will be an outpatient treatment center for individuals with opioid use disorder and/or other drug dependencies that will offer low-barrier access.

As for the $1.4 million, it will be spent for the following:

  • $470k for existing programs for drug user health and harm reduction
  • $325k for 2 new positions at Health One as well as relevant supplies
  • $582k one-time investment to support service delivery at the post-overdose stabilization center
  • $516k for ongoing costs at the post-overdose stabilization center
  • $164k administrative costs
  • $164k for a planning & development specialist to oversee the work supported by these monies

It is unclear where the money needed to operate the low-barrier access outpatient treatment center will come from.

CM Nelson objected to the use of the funds for harm reduction programs.

Meanwhile, SPD has estimated the requirements from this new legislation will result in it making 700-800 new diversion referrals every year. Right now LEAD is funded with $9.9 million, which allows it to serve 750 program participants. HSD believes this funding level will be sufficient, but how this can be the case when LEAD might not even have enough funding to serve all the new SPD drug referrals, let alone their normal caseload, is something of a mystery at present. Pre-filing diversion programs are also not receiving any increase in funding. 

SPD Budget Issues

The budget issue identification pertaining to SPD was discussed by City Council on Friday afternoon. You can see the presentation and the associated memo

Between January and September of 2023, SPD missed its hiring goals by 36, only hiring 46 officers and only 6 of those being lateral hires (meaning those officers are experienced and can be deployed quickly). They had 77 officer separations during that same time period (the projection was 72). Therefore, they experienced a net decrease of officers of 27.

At best, SPD’s staffing will remain flat for 2024, but this depends on an ambitious plan to hire 120 officers next year, with a full 30 being lateral hires. Unless something changes vastly in the next few months, this projection appears to be removed from reality. Iin 2024, SPD is proposing to fund 1,131 sworn FTEs.

SPD expects to exceed their overtime budget by $9.3 million for 2023, reaching a total of $40.6 million for overtime. The total number of events worked by SPD in 2023 was greater than that in 2019 before the pandemic began. Interestingly, Chief Diaz reported the department uses a combination of sworn officers and parking enforcement officers (PEOs) to staff events. 

SPD has been having trouble staying ahead of attrition while hiring new parking enforcement officers (PEOs) this year, so there might be as much as $1.5 million in PEO salary savings to help plug this overtime spending gap. Yes, now that the PEOs have moved back to SPD, it gets to use PEO salary savings as well as sworn officer salary savings. There are 22 open PEO positions right now, and these are planned to be filled by April 2024. 

Finally there was much discussion of the crime prevention pilot, for which the Mayor is asking for a $1.8 million investment that is being paid for by salary savings (the rest of the $8.1 million in projected salary savings for 2024 is being proposed to be spent on additional SPD overtime). $280k would be spent on additional automatic license plate reader technology. The remainder, $1.5 million, would be spent on deploying CCTV cameras with acoustic gunshot locator capabilities (aka ShotSpotter with cameras). 

The Mayor’s Office has chosen the 3rd Avenue corridor, Belltown, and/or Aurora Ave N as potential locations to deploy this new technology, although they are not yet sure how many locations they will be able to cover with the money available. These locations were chosen from SPD data, looking for places where gun violence, human trafficking, and high felony crime concentration are present. There is also no information available on what a scaled up version of this pilot might look like or how much it would cost. 

The Mayor has suggested this new technology would be deployable by March of 2024, even though it would first need to undergo a surveillance technology review and a racial equity analysis. 

A particularly disturbing detail of the plan is the desire to develop an omnibus surveillance policy. This policy would allow any CCTV cameras in the pilot to be moved around the city at will, without having to undergo any oversight from the City Council. The Mayor has said he will engage with each community to which the cameras are moved, but given some of the community engagement efforts we’ve seen in the past from this administration, this loose commitment doesn’t exactly ease fears of potential issues with this policy.

Several councilmembers, including CMs Nelson, Pedersen, Lewis, and Strauss signaled their potential support for this Shotspotter CCTV pilot. 

I will try to cover the new CARE department budgetary issues next week, but in the meantime, you can see their presentation and memo.

Overall Budget Issue

The critical conversation about potential new progressive revenue sources for 2025 and beyond has yet to truly begin, but Pubicola reports the Mayor’s proposed 2024 budget increases the projected 2025 deficit from $212 million to $247 million. 

And what about the JumpStart tax revenues?Harrell’s budget transfers $27 million from the Jumpstart tax fund to the general fund, an ongoing practice that the council has approved every year for the past several years to keep COVID-era programs going. Much of that includes new spending beyond what the council approved last year in the “endorsed” 2024 budget.”

Other News

The City of Seattle settled with the estate of Derek Hayden, a man killed by SPD in January of 2022. To resolve this wrongful death claim, they paid $1.5 million

The trial of the police who killed Manuel Ellis continues in Tacoma. Before she testified on Monday, Ellis’s mother says she found an AirTag tracking device on her car, as well as having her tires slashed earlier on the weekend. As a result, Ellis’s sister alleged witness intimidation.

Recent Headlines

 

Will ShotSpotter CCTV Cameras Roam Seattle’s Streets Next Year? Read More »

Seattle Budget Inches Towards the Finish Line

Seattle Balancing Package Budget Amendments

Amy Sundberg
Good morning and welcome to Seattle’s budget meeting! Today CMs will vote on amendments to the balancing package.
After a marathon budget meeting yesterday lasting almost twelve hours, we have a much better idea of the final shape the 2023 Seattle budget will take. The Council will vote on the final budget in budget committee on Monday, November 28 and take the final vote in Full Council on Tuesday, November 29. However, barring a dramatic event and/or last minute shenanigans, most changes to the budget during the next week will be technical in nature.
So where are we with the budget in terms of public safety?
  • the PEOs will be moved back into SPD (more about this later, as it is the subject of much opining); CMs Herbold, Juarez, Lewis, Nelson, Pedersen, and Strauss voted yes, CMs Sawant and Morales abstained, and CM Mosqueda voted no.
  • in the same budget move that achieved the PEO move, a few SPD balancing package cuts were restored: $750k for a recruitment media campaign and $191k for an assistant city attorney position within SPD
  • the following SPD cuts remain: $450k from police equipment (guns, tasers, etc); $450k from additional retention initiatives; $1m for a gun detection system like ShotSpotter
  • 80 “ghost cop” positions were abrogated; CMs Herbold, Juarez, Morales, Sawant, Strauss, and Mosqueda voted in favor; CMs Lewis, Nelson, and Pedersen opposed. While CM Mosqueda argued for the measure as expected (since she included it in her balancing package), CM Herbold and CP Juarez both also argued strongly in favor of this proposal. Central Staff found there were even more ghost cop positions than previously known; the total number was 240. With the abrogations, the new number of ghost cop positions will be 160.
  • SPD salary savings will continue to be under a proviso to allow Council to be part of the conversation about how these dollars will be spent; all CMs but Nelson and Pedersen voted in favor.
  • Seattle will be spending some unexpected SPD salary savings to fund a seaplane awareness campaign, among other priorities.
  • Sweeps will continue to be funded.
  • Human Service workers will be paid commiserate with inflation.
  • $50k was added to develop an Impacted Person’s Program for victims of SPD violence and their families; this work will be done by forming an OPA workgroup.
Other items of interest:
  • CM Morales’s amendment to create a Municipal Housing Administration Program (one that could interface well with I-135 should it pass in February) failed to pass. CMs Lewis, Morales, and Sawant voted in favor, CMs Herbold, Juarez, Mosqueda, Nelson, Strauss opposed, and CM Pedersen abstained.
  • CM Sawant’s amendment to increase the JumpStart tax also failed, which was not a surprise, but it did garner support from two additional CMs: CM Morales and CM Mosqueda.
  • The law will not be changed this year making the JumpStart tax a permanent fill-in for General Fund woes at the expense of its intended spend plan.
  • Seattle Public Schools look like they’ll be getting around $1.5m for mental health services, which is better than nothing but far below students’ $9m ask. Let’s hope this fight for much-needed funding is taken to the state during the next legislative session in January.

What about the PEOs?

As Erica Barnett reported in Publicolathe PEOs’ ULP (Unfair Labor Practice) against the City was rejected. This suit was one reason given for wanting to move the PEOs back into SPD; however, CMs couldn’t resist the lure of several million more dollars to invest in pet projects if they went ahead with the move. The failure of this suit is still relevant, however, since the PEOs argued they needed access to the Criminal Justice Investigation System (CJIS), a database they can only currently access if part of SPD. However, the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) said access to this database is not necessary for the PEOs to do their jobs, clearing the way for them to be located in CSCC or another department in the future, an idea favored by several CMs.
If you want a rundown of the history of the PEO controversy, look no further than Will Casey’s article on this in The Stranger. If it seems like a strange issue to be fighting over, you are not alone in this assessment. And it is true that in their year over at SDOT, the PEOs weren’t supported in making any kind of meaningful culture shift away from a policing, punitive mindset. They were even still housed in an SPD building, and their uniforms and vehicles retained SPD labels.
However, this doesn’t mean the location of the PEOs doesn’t matter. They certainly won’t succeed in shifting their culture from within SPD, and they are part of a bigger policy question: do civilian workers belong within a non-civilian department like SPD or are they better housed in civilian departments? In 2020 the Council came down clearly on the side of the latter, when they also moved the 911 dispatchers and victim advocates out of SPD.
Another policy question looms large over Seattle: will our elected leaders ever choose to make meaningful investments in addressing root causes of crime and suffering, or will they continue to primarily invest in a strategy with a thus far poor track record: police and sweeps? Only time will tell, but looking at allocated dollars remains a powerful way to understand a city’s priorities.

Housekeeping

As most of you already know, Twitter is not the most stable service right now. This newsletter is currently running through a Twitter-attached service. I am weighing options on the best solution to meet Notes from the Emerald City‘s needs in the future, but rest assured, I will be continuing to report, and I will keep you informed about any changes that might be coming.
I am also on vacation next week, so there will be no newsletter. Yes, this was planned before budget season was extended for an extra week. I’ll do a wrap-up of budget season upon my return, from which we will all benefit from the wisdom of everyone else’s wrap-ups!

Recent Headlines

Seattle Budget Inches Towards the Finish Line Read More »

Seattle’s Budget Balancing Package

Seattle’s Balancing Package

Amy Sundberg
Okay, let’s try this again! Welcome to Seattle’s budget committee meeting introducing the Chair’s balancing package.
Budget Chair Mosqueda released her budget balancing package yesterday morning, after delaying its unveiling a week to wrestle with lower than expected revenues.
Looking at the public safety portion of the budget, it lays out the following:
  • 80 “ghost cop” positions to be abrogated
  • the PEOs to remain in SDOT with increased supports until a study about their final destination can be run
  • many small cuts in SPD: to the retention program (although the main program passed earlier this year remains intact); to the recruitment media plan; to police equipment; elimination of the gunfire detection system (ShotSpotter); and elimination of an assistant city attorney position that was to be housed within SPD, for cuts totaling around $2.84m. These cuts were all originally funded by empty positions SPD can’t hope to fill anytime soon.
  • $4m additional to LEAD, which is less than CM Herbold asked for
  • $300k for a gun violence prevention pilot run at Haborview through the Regional Peacekeepers Collective, which is half of what CM Herbold asked for
  • $50k to develop an Affected Person’s program for those impacted by SPD violence
  • $1m to expand mental health services in schools, in answer to Seattle Student Union’s demands for $9m to improve the ratio between counselors and high school students
  • the dual dispatch emergency response pilot doesn’t get any additional funding until 2024, and the expansion of CSO duties isn’t funded
In addition, transportation projects took a big hit, unsurprising given the much lower forecast of the REET funds. Sweeps remain well funded. Given the poor revenue forecast, CM Mosqueda opted to use JumpStart funds to avoid an austerity budget for the next two years but chose not to permanently change JumpStart to become a General Fund slush fund in perpetuity as Mayor Harrell had wanted. She seems to be pinning her hopes on the task force looking for new progressive revenue for the city. You can read another overview of the balancing package here.
At the meeting on Monday, one could already observe the “tough on crime” part of the Council wringing their hands, and CMs Nelson and Pedersen quickly published an op-ed in The Seattle Times, complaining specifically about the public safety portions of the balancing package. The piece seems to claim that somehow Seattle’s homeless problem will be addressed by…keeping those 80 perpetually open SPD positions? moving the PEOs back into SPD? undoing the less than $3m in proposed cuts to SPD in the balancing package? It is an incoherent argument at best, given that meaningfully addressing the homeless crisis will cost hundreds of millions of dollars spent on HOUSING and supportive services, not SPD.
Given the hysteria over what amount to fairly small changes from the Mayor’s proposed budget, perhaps it is time to revisit WHY 7 out of 9 Councilmembers agreed in 2020 that as a general policy position, the idea of shrinking SPD might have some merit:
  • In response to the mostly peaceful George Floyd protests, SPD indiscriminately used less-lethal weapons such as tear gas, pepper spray, blast balls, and flash bangs, as well as using their bicycles as weapons and punching and kneeling on the necks of people who had been arrested. They did so night after night, at protest after protest. The OPA were contacted over 19,000 times between May 30 and the end of 2020 with complaints about police behavior at protests.
  • In fact, SPD were so extreme in their behavior that the Court granted a temporary restraining order against SPD and their use of these weapons in June 2020, and then in December 2020 found SPD in contempt for protests in the preceding August and September.
  • The City of Seattle also withdrew the motion “to terminate most of the Consent Decree” on June 3. 2920 because of community outcry and SPD’s egregious use of force, a consent decree which has now been in place in Seattle for over TEN years.
  • SPD were noted to be specifically targeting medics, legal observers, and journalists with violence and arrest, including journalist Andrew Buncombe, who wrote about the experience for his paper
  • The protests were marked by both a lack of communication from SPD and the Mayor’s Office (for example, pertaining to the evacuation of the East Precinct, for which no one would take responsibility) and flat-out lying, for example in the case of the Proud Boys ruse executed by SPD and the SPD press conference on June 10, 2020
  • The public later discovered text messages from the period in question had been illegally deleted from the Chief of Police’s phone, the Mayor’s phone, the Fire Chief’s phone, and several other SPD command staff members’ phones. Former Chief Best later admitted she had gone in and manually deleted some of her texts
  • A strong coalition of protesters came together to demand cuts to SPD and investments to address the root causes of violence, meet community members’ basic needs, and begin to address the systemic racism that has been at play in our city since its founding
And yet here we are, a little over two years later, arguing over less than $3m, the civilian PEO unit staying in a civilian division, and 80 SPD abrogations that SPD has no way of filling for years to come. Meanwhile, the much small 911 dispatcher unit is undergoing 26 abrogations in the same budget, a move that hasn’t caused an outcry even though the “tough on crime” proponents make frequent complaints about increased 911 call response times. This is because abrogation of positions that cannot be filled is simply good fiscal practice.
The last public hearing on the budget was held tonight beginning at 5pm. You can still email council members with your thoughts on the balancing package; here are a few scripts. The next round of amendments, which need to be self-balancing, will probably be released towards the end of this week. You will have the opportunity to make public comment on these amendments on Monday, November 21 starting at 9:30am (signups beginning at 7:30am), after which the amendments will be voted upon.
The budget committee will vote on the entire budget on Monday, November 28, and the full council will make their final vote on Tuesday, November 29.

Other News

Carolyn Bick reported today that the OPA may have broken city and state public records laws by deleting emails they were legally required to keep. Given the “missing” text messages of 2020, it is perhaps no surprise that other city departments will now follow that precedent, secure in the knowledge that we don’t currently have a city culture of transparency or accountability and that they won’t suffer any consequences for improper actions.
UW graduate student Matthew Mitnick announced his run today for the Seattle D4 council member seat currently held by CM Pedersen.
The King County Council voted on the 2023-2024 biennial budget today, which passed unanimously.

Recent Headlines

Auditing the Status Quo in Los Angeles | Bolts

What the midterms told us about voters and crime

Roundup: Corruption scandals at the DEA and Rhode Island State Police; astonishingly low recidivism among federal prisoners sent home during COVID; Adams' bail reform lies may cost Democrats the House

Seattle’s Budget Balancing Package Read More »

It’s Almost as if Seattle Doesn’t Want to Reimagine Public Safety After All

Seattle Budget: Parking Enforcement Officers

Last Thursday, the Council held budget meetings about the potential parking enforcement officer (PEO) transfer from SDOT to SPD, SPD’s proposed budget, and the Community Safety and Communications Center’s (CSCC) proposed budget. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s dive in.
First up are the PEOs. The move to SDOT about a year ago has not thus far been a success, and labor issues have resulted. The PEOs are vastly understaffed, both as a result of general unhappiness over a botched move and SDOT’s decision to keep some positions open so as to use the money this freed up to pay for their overhead costs (more about that in a minute.) There are only 80 PEOs right now, for a department that calls for the staffing of 123 FTE. The PEOs are still housed within the physical structures of SPD, they still wear SPD uniforms, and they still have SPD emblazoned on their vehicles. They no longer have access to SPD databases (well, really it’s the FBI’s CJIS, more about this in a minute). And then of course there was the debacle where, due to “mistakes” made by SPD and potentially the last Mayor’s Office, the PEOs weren’t given their special commissions when they were moved to SDOT, and therefore $5m worth of traffic tickets had to be either voided or refunded earlier this year.
Whether it was sabotage or simply shocking incompetence, nobody can argue that this has been a smooth transition. Hence the Mayor’s proposal to move the PEOs back into SPD.
Because of the way SDOT calculates its overhead, which is complicated due to its multiple funding sources, it costs an additional $8m from the General Fund to keep the PEOs in SDOT, a fact that the Mayor’s Office and SDOT, who both lobbied heavily for the PEOs to move to SDOT rather than the CSCC, somehow failed to mention at that time.
Another issue is the PEOs’ lack of access to the CJIS database. Right now SPD provides them with a static hot sheet with a list of vehicles by license plate that are stolen, but the PEOs can’t call in to get at-the-moment information from the database, which includes information such as registered owner and address. It is unclear how large a problem the lack of access to this database actually is, but it is interesting to note that even if they were to move to the CSCC, the PEOs wouldn’t be granted access to it; the 911 dispatchers have this access, but WASPC, the state body who decides these matters, has said the PEOs aren’t performing a criminal justice purpose and therefore are ineligible. No outside legal analysis of this issue has been completed.
The SPD, unsurprisingly, is happy to welcome back the PEOs with open arms, especially as they’ll come with funding for the entire 123 FTE. Because there are only currently 80 PEOs, that means SPD will get an extra $4.2m; while they will use part of this sum to hopefully pay for additional hires, there will be some left over, for which they will inevitably find an indispensable use within the department. The PEOs themselves took a poll and overwhelmingly expressed a desire to be back in SPD rather than in SDOT.
A third option not explored in the aforementioned poll is to move the PEOs to the CSCC, which was the Council’s original plan back in 2020. Aside from the issue of database access, the CSCC is a new department that would need lead time to prepare to receive the PEOs, which would nearly double their headcount. There would probably be some extra overhead involved with this as well, although nowhere near SDOT’s staggering $8m price tag. However, this move would preserve the Council’s intent to move civilian functions outside the police department in response to the protesters that were in the streets for so much of 2020.

Seattle Budget: Seattle Police Department

SPD is enjoying being able to say they’re taking the largest cut of any department. This is misleading rhetoric, of course; the actual size of their budget will be larger than it was in 2022 if the proposed budget doesn’t change. Much time was spent in the SPD budget meeting discussing the $250k increase to Harbor Patrol, which moved into a discussion of whether certain aspects of Harbor Patrol might be more suitable for a civilian response (namely, search and rescue and water safety). In response to this suggestion, Senior Deputy Mayor Harrell mentioned that houseboat piracy was a problem.
Moving past the serious piracy issue facing Seattle, Central Staff projects 153 officers will be separating from the department in 2022 by the end of the year. Once again, SPD’s projections for separations and hiring for 2023 seem overly rosy, although the high rate of separations has been going on for long enough at this point that people can now bring up the point of diminishing returns, ie that in a smaller police force, there will also be a smaller number of people leaving. The 80 positions not being funded for 2023 are not being permanently cut (abrogated) but rather underfunded for now.
There was also a discussion of the gunfire detection system (which will probably be ShotSpotter). Interestingly, CM Nelson brought up a study by Edgeworth Analytics that found a high accuracy rate for ShotSpotter, but didn’t disclose that this study had in fact been funded BY ShotSpotter. Luckily CM Mosqueda brought up that point. CM Nelson also stated that if even one life were to be saved by a gunfire detection system, then the financial investment would be worth it, even though it had been emphasized earlier in the presentation that these detection systems are not intended to reduce gun violence in any way, but rather to help capture evidence about gun-related crimes after they happen. Regardless, the city surveillance ordinance would require the completion of a surveillance impact report (SIR), which Central Staff thinks would take more than 12 months to complete, meaning this budget item may well be premature.

Seattle Budget: CSCC

During this meeting, Ann Gorman of Central Staff presented the results thus far of the collaboration between the Mayor’s Office and Central Staff over alternative response as memorialized in a term sheet. There is agreement that the $1.9m for a near-term pilot of alternative response in Seattle could be spent in 2023 on some combination of the following:
  1. Direct dispatch of SFD Health One units
  2. Intelligent non-emergency reporting: this is instant reporting that doesn’t require an SPD officer to come to the scene. In practice, this would be improvement of online reporting or reporting by phone, for example, by providing better support of other languages.
  3. Expansion of CSO duties: currently the CSOs serve as liaisons between SPD and community and don’t have law enforcement authority. It may be possible to expand their role in a way that lessens the workload of SPD officers.
  4. Dual (SPD/civilian) dispatch to augment current mental/behavioral health response: This means that two separate units would be sent to the scene, one from SPD and one that is a city-staffed team with relevant clinical and procedural training. In other words, this response would still involve officers with a gun coming to the scene, although CM Herbold mentioned that perhaps the SPD officers could sometimes stage themselves nearby instead of arriving directly on the scene.
For proponents of a mental health crisis response alternative in Seattle, this list will doubtless be less than inspiring, as none of these options is what has been asked for, including the co-response detailed in option 4. However, both CM Herbold and CM Lewis, who have previously been strong proponents of a civilian alternative response such as STAR in Denver, were both effusive in their praise. CM Herbold went so far as to walk back some of her criticism of the Risk Management Demand report delivered by SPD a few weeks ago. (This is the system SPD has spent large amounts of time and money developing only to have to go in and manually correct more than 50% of call type classifications provided by their new system. The system was also meant to assess risk to responders but instead used risk to the subject as a proxy.)

King County Budget

The next opportunity for public comment on the biennial 2023-2024 King County budget is tomorrow, Wednesday, 10/19 at 6pm. More details and a script can be found here. If you can’t make the meeting, you can also email your King County council members.

Election News

People Power Washington’s voter guide is out! You can see questionnaires about public safety answered by candidates for state legislature, for King County prosecutor, and for Seattle Municipal Court Judge. Information about races for prosecutor and judge in particular can be hard to come by, so this is an excellent resource for helping you make an educated decision come Election Day.
There is a King County prosecutor candidate debate this Thursday, 10/20 from 6-8pm in Federal Way. More details and sign up can be found here.

Other Seattle News

Also in the budget: Mayor Harrell’s proposal to spend $38m on the Unified Care Team and the Clean City Initiative. As Erica C. Barnett reports:
memo accompanying that presentation adds that, legally speaking, there’s no guarantee that the new funding won’t be used to “accelerate encampment removals.”
In redistricting news, Seattle’s redistricting commission voted on a new map today. They passed a map that divides Magnolia along the west-east ridge and doesn’t divide Fremont into three(!) different districts. All but one commissioner voted in favor of this new map, and you can see it here. The exact dividing line in Magnolia might change, but other that that, Erica Barnett reports this will be the map, which represents a heartening victory for Redistricting Justice for Seattle and their bid for an equitable map.
You might remember that earlier this year, the Human Rights Commission tried to initiate a data collection project on behalf of those impacted by police violence, including wanting to file for amicus status with the court overseeing the consent decree process, only to be shot down by the City Attorney. Well, now four commissioners, including three co-chairs, have resigned in protest. You can read their passionate open letter here.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released Wave 3 of their Sentinel Event Review report on the 2020 protests, which covers June 8 – July 1, 2020. And it is quite damning, showing that in addition to miscommunication and sloppy police work, the SPD indulged in flat-out lying in their infamous ruse in which they tried to make protesters believe armed Proud Boys were headed to CHOP. As Justin reports:
The Wave 3 report includes … SPD officials either mistakenly or intentionally making statements about unsubstantiated and not fully investigated allegations of armed checkpoints and shakedowns of area businesses in press conferences and statements to the media as evidence of bad decisions and a lack of leadership that hindered the city’s response — and set it on a permanently flawed course contributing to the growth of dangerous conditions in the CHOP zone.
It is worth reading the entire article, which also provides access to the full OIG report.
Finally, CM Dan Strauss held a community meeting about safety in Greenwood last night, at which he told attendees they weren’t allowed to record and barred journalists from entry until the end. Not exactly the best way to promote an environment of transparency and accountability.
Isolde Raftery
@CMDanStrauss are you seriously preventing the media from attending your PUBLIC meeting on safety in Greenwood???

Standing outside the @TaprootTheatre with @king5 …

Recent Headlines

Leesa Manion is the better choice for Prosecutor | Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

It’s Almost as if Seattle Doesn’t Want to Reimagine Public Safety After All Read More »

Questions About SPD’s Risk Managed Demand Report Overshadowed by the Start of Budget Season

If you want to read about SPD’s Risk Managed Demand presentation, you can skip straight down to the “Seattle’s Public Safety Committee Meeting” section. But first, budget news!

Seattle’s Proposed Budget

Amy Sundberg
The first Seattle Select Budget committee meeting of the season has begun. I’m not going to live tweet the whole meeting, but I’ll try to tweet the things I find interesting.
You can see the Mayor’s proposed 2023-2024 budget here and the Budget Office’s presentation on it here. You can read local coverage of the budget here and here, and coverage of the Solidarity Budget here.
Let’s dive in and see what’s in this proposed budget relating to public safety.
First of all, SPD. The SPD budget in 2022 was $353m, and its proposed budget for 2023 is $373.5m, which is close to a 6% increase.
The bulk of this increase–almost $20m–is due to the Mayor’s proposal to move the parking enforcement officers (PEOs) back into SPD from SDOT. The stated reasons for doing so are that it will save more than $5m in overhead costs that SDOT needs to house the PEOs but SPD wouldn’t need, as they didn’t lose any overhead dollars when the PEOs left their department, and the PEOs would regain access to certain SPD databases, which would remove the basis for unfair labor practices. In addition, it sounds like the culture of the PEOs hasn’t yet shifted away from a more police-oriented feel. Mayor Harrell mentioned this might not be the final home of the PEOs. Reasons for keeping the PEOs in SDOT include maintaining promises made to community in 2020 to work to move civilian functions outside SPD; allowing closer collaboration between PEOs and SDOT to make our streets safer using more strategies than just ticketing; and leaving the PEOs where they are until a final home for them has been decided (I’m assuming the Mayor was referencing the possibility of housing them in the third public safety department he envisions).
In addition, the Mayor plans to reinvest about $17m of salary savings in SPD back into the department. This salary savings is realized through ghost positions within SPD that remain funded even though they will not be able to be filled during 2023. This money is to be used for the following investments:
  • $1.3m for addt’l police equipment, which is mostly weapons;
  • $4.25m for recruitment and retention bonuses;
  • $2.6m in addt’l overtime;
  • almost $3m for more technology projects;
  • $1m for a gunfire detection system, ShotSpotter;
  • $250k for Harbor Patrol;
  • $490.5k for a mental health practitioner;
  • $168k for a new OPA employee
  • $446k for relational policing, about which we have no details
  • $424.9k to transfer 1 IT employee and 2 LAW employees into SPD
Also in the budget for HSD are $4.3m for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative and $1.5m for the King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective, as well as $502k for victim advocates. The $1.2m allocated for alternative emergency response in the mid-year supplemental is retained, along with an additional $700k, all of which is currently sitting in Finance General until the Council decides which department to move it into. That $700k appears to be the only new investment allocated for community-based public safety alternatives, as the SCSI and the Peacekeepers were already funded in last year’s budget.
Controversially, the proposed budget includes legislation that would cap future liability for inflation-based increases for human service contracts at 4%. For reference, over the 12 month period ending in June 2022, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 9.1 percent. It’s important to understand that these human service providers are public safety workers performing essential public services and already tend to be underpaid and are currently also understaffed. In a budget in which both police officers and fire fighters are being offered recruitment and retention packages, this legislation is a slap in the face to these essential workers, for whom it basically results in a pay cut.
Key Dates in the Seattle Budget Process:
October 11, 5pm: First evening public hearing
November 7: Chair’s Balancing Package introduced
November 8, 9:30am: Morning public hearing
November 15, 5pm: Second evening public hearing
November 16: Budget committee votes on balancing package
November 21: Budget committee vote on budget in the AM; final Full Council vote on the budget at 2pm
Public comment will also be heard at the October 11 and October 25 budget meetings at 9:30am, and probably one or two budget meetings in November as well.

King County Proposed Budget:

Executive Dow Constantine proposed his King County 2023-2024 budget on Tuesday. You can read about new investments being made in the law & justice category of the budget here and the complete rundown on the law, safety, & justice can be found here.
Some highlights:
  • $9m to the Regional Peacekeepers Collective
  • $2.3m to the Sheriff’s Office for a new gun violence unit and for detectives for the major crimes unit
  • $21m for 140 Metro “transit security officers” whose duties are not yet clear
  • $2.1m for behavioral health co-response unit expansion, which still involves sending armed officers to behavioral health crises
  • $5m for body cameras (this will take some years to implement)
  • $6.3m for jail-based opioid treatment programs and services for people being released from jail with substance abuse disorder
You can make public comment on the budget in person or virtually on the evening of Wednesday, October 5 at 6pm, and there are two in person only public comment opportunities on October 12 and October 19 at 6pm. There is one additional opportunity for public comment on November 8 at 9:30am. You can also email the King County council members directly about the budget. Suggested scripts are forthcoming from People Power Washington.

Seattle’s Public Safety Committee Meeting

The last Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting until the end of budget season was held this Tuesday. Among other issues, the CMs discussed the City Attorney’s Office Q2 report and the SPD’s long-awaited Risk Managed Demand report.

Amy Sundberg
Good morning and welcome to Seattle’s special Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. We’re starting with a bunch of appointments.
The City Attorney’s Office Q2 report showed how much faster the office has been making its filing decisions. The number of filed cases has more than doubled, in spite of misdemeanor referrals from SPD being down. They have also been declining fewer cases. Just as filed cases have risen dramatically, so have referrals to Community Court and Mental Health Court.
You can see the Risk Managed Demand (RMD) presentation here and the technical brief here. SPD requested to do this research before an alternative emergency response program was designed here in Seattle.
The analysis looks at injuries associated with the final 911 call type using a matrix of likelihood and severity. SPD had to manually upgrade or downgrade slightly more than 50% of the 356 call types, meaning the matrix worked less than half of the time, which caused some concern to CMs. Also causing concern was the belief this report was supposed to be analyzing the risk to call responders, while instead it uses the risk to the subject as a proxy for that, leaving out data from calls that involved use of force. If this sounds convoluted to you, you are not alone.
CM Mosqueda questioned whether, given the issues with this new report, the NICJR findings weren’t just as sound while also giving concrete policy changes that this new report doesn’t give. CM Herbold was concerned, given that 50% of the time call types were either upgraded or downgraded, that we need to understand what policies, principles, or rules lead to those judgment calls of how to change call type classification.
CM Lewis brought up Denver’s successful STAR program that answers calls that this new RMD report would suggest should go to some kind of co-response instead. In response, Dan Eder of the Mayor’s Office said the RMD report can’t answer CM Lewis’s questions, explaining that this risk analysis isn’t determinative of the most appropriate kind of program to design or call types to assign to a new program. Which begs the question: if this research doesn’t answer these questions, why are we a.) spending tons of taxpayer money on it, and b.) allowing it to drastically delay implementation of any alternative emergency response program?
CM Herbold said this RMD report shouldn’t hold up implementation of a new alternative response as discussed in the term sheet between the Mayor’s Office and Central Staff, and announced the next Public Safety committee meeting will take place on Tuesday, December 11 at 9:30am.

Other News of Note

Seattle’s Redistricting Commission voted to approve an amendment that unites Magnolia into District 6 and divides the Fremont neighborhood into three districts: D4, D6, and D7. As Doug Trumm writes: “[Commissioner] Juárez also pointed out that this was a significant departure from the Redistricting Justice for Washington Seattle maps that had the most positive comments throughout the process, which is why the commission’s initial proposal had largely been based on that map.”
It is worth noting that Magnolia is predominantly zoned for single family housing, while a large part of Fremont is within an urban village and is more renter-friendly. You can give public comment on this new plan on Saturday, October 8 from 10am-12pm via Zoom or in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the City Hall 1st Floor.
King County leaders held a press conference to announce a $1.25B plan to address the behavioral health crisis, which will involve a new property tax levy that will be on the ballot in April 2023.
Last Friday Seattle’s Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights & Culture committee discussed the participatory budgeting process, and they’ll be back to discuss it further on December 9. The timeline for PB is as follows: planning and design will happen in fall of 2022; idea collection and proposal development will happen in winter of 2022-2023; proposal development and voting will happen in spring of 2023; and funding will be provided to the winning projects in summer of 2023.
A forum was held for Seattle Municipal Court judge candidates Pooja Vaddadi and Adam Eisenberg. You can watch it here.

Recent Headlines

Questions About SPD’s Risk Managed Demand Report Overshadowed by the Start of Budget Season Read More »

A Time of Big Change for Seattle

As always, there’s a lot going on! Let’s dive right in.

Primary Results

Aligning with the conventional wisdom that more progressive votes tend to be in the later vote counts, the progressives on the ballot have benefited from a boost in numbers as we get closer to a complete ballot count. And in big news, Seattle City Attorney incumbent Pete Holmes conceded.
The numbers as of yesterday morning:
Seattle CC Position 8: CM Mosqueda has 59.39% of the vote.
Seattle CC Position 9: Nikkita Oliver has 40.16% and Sara Nelson has 39.5% of the vote.
Seattle City Attorney: Nicole Thomas-Kennedy has 36.35% and Ann Davison has 32.72% of the vote.
Seattle Mayor: Bruce Harrell has 34.05% and M. Lorena González has 32.1% of the vote.
King County Executive: Dow Constantine has 51.92% and Joe Nguyen has 32.53% of the vote.
Ballot Drop Update: Abolitionist Nikkita Oliver Now Leads Citywide City Council Race - Slog - The Stranger

Seattle Meetings

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Council Briefing! They are getting a bit of a late start today.
At this week’s Seattle Council Briefing, CM Morales said the Office of Civil Rights has created a new Community Investments division from which to run participatory budgeting. They now have a PB page on their website and they’ve posted to hire three new staff members for this division. CM Morales hopes the City begins doing participatory budgeting as a matter of course as a normal part of their budgeting season.
Also remember that next Tuesday, August 17 at 9:30am, the Finance and Housing committee will meet to vote on the supplemental budget, which will include some amendments related to SPD’s budget. There will be time at the beginning of the meeting to give public comment. I’ll write more about these amendments once they become available.
Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. CM Sawant won’t be attending; CP González, CM Lewis, CM Morales, CM Herbold are present. CM Mosqueda is also present.
This week’s Public Safety committee meeting was a long one! The CMs voted legislation out of committee that will move the parking enforcement officers out of SPD and into SDOT. You may remember there was an open question as to whether they would be moved to SDOT or the new CSCC. The rank and file PEOs wanted to be moved to the CSCC, while the supervisors and the Mayor wanted them to be moved to SDOT. Apparently the supervisors and Mayor won this argument. This will receive a final vote by the Full Council next week.
HSD then gave a presentation on the recent RFP process for allocating the $12m in community safety capacity building. You can see the presentation here. CM Morales pointed out this is only one time funding and said she’s interested in working on developing more sustainable programming in this vein.
Finally the Q2 SPD Budgeting and Staffing report was given by Central Staff and two members of SPD. CM Herbold pressed SPD more than once on why they are spending money in areas the Council hasn’t yet authorized. SPD presented their budget proposal for spending the $15.3m in estimated salary savings for the year. Some of this proposal will probably show up in the previously mentioned supplemental budget amendments being discussed next week. One area of disagreement was about the CSOs; CMs seem interested in the idea of moving the CSOs from SPD into the CSCC, while SPD wants to retain the CSOs and credits the success of the unit to their relationship with the sworn officers.
SPD anticipates another 60 separations by the end of the year, meaning there would be 160 separations total in 2021. There are also 108 officers who aren’t currently deployable. They spent some time discussing the morale issue at SPD, with several CMs thanking the police officers who have stayed for their service. CP González asked some pointed questions about specific retention strategies currently being discussed, and expressed that the lack of SPD’s ability to retain their officers is a management problem and something the Executive’s office hasn’t spent enough time addressing. You can read more about her exchange with SPD’s Dr. Fisher here.
It also came out that the new automated time keeping system, originally meant to be rolled out in Q2, was placed “on hold” after Seattle IT determined it hadn’t been sufficiently tested. They are scheduled to have a kick-off “soon” to determine where they left off and establish a new timeline, which begs the question why they put it on hold in the first place instead of continuing to move forward. This new technology is not scoped for tracking off-duty work, although it could theoretically do so, something CM Herbold indicated interest in.

Other Seattle News

In yet another blow to the integrity of Seattle’s police accountability system, an OIG auditor resigned as investigations supervisor, making a formal ethics complaint to the City alleging that the OIG is failing to provide independent oversight of the OPA, as well as having a pattern of concealing the truth and avoiding public disclosure request requirements. The letter also references a personal relationship between Deputy IG Amy Tsai at the OIG and OPA Director Myerberg as the source for the OIG’s reluctance to push back against the OPA . This story was broken by Carolyn Bick in the South Seattle Emerald and is well worth the read. At this week’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold said she was going to consult with the Ethics and Elections Commission and Seattle HR as to how to review these concerns.
As Kevin Schofield writes, at yesterday’s consent decree hearing, Judge Robart “wasted little time in eviscerating” the CPC’s attorney Edgar Sargent, turning down the CPC’s request to have the Police Monitor become more involved in the SPOG contract negotiations and OPA investigations. Robart also “noted the big changes underway: elections for Mayor, City Attorney (“candidates from left and right”), City Council; collective bargaining underway; a police department budget “threatened with abolition and different levels of cuts”; and a Mayor who doesn’t want to tie the hands of the next mayor and thus is postponing significant decisions — including hiring a new permanent police chief.” It is a big time of change for Seattle, and November’s election will play a prominent role in deciding how things proceed.
Pete Holmes reported that SPMA negotiations are quite far along, with the parties in mediation over some issues, and that for SPOG negotiations, the Labor Relations Policy Committee is close to finalizing the bargaining parameters. It’s worth noting that even if the parameters are finalized soon, most of the SPOG negotiation will be presided over by a different Mayor and City Attorney.
ACLU Washington recently released a blog post analyzing Seattle’s consent decree and concluding that it doesn’t block Seattle from engaging in a divest and reinvest strategy. “An analysis of the original consent decree documents demonstrates there is no explicit prohibition on making significant changes to the SPD budget. The consent decree does not make any part of the budget untouchable nor does it mandate particular staffing or the existence of certain units and there is nothing in the Consent Decree to indicate that the units must be SPD units.” It doesn’t seem Judge Robart is in complete agreement with this; although he supports scaling up Health One and alternate 911 response, he also wants the City to continue to improve SPD, assumedly by investing its dollars into it.
Chief Diaz terminated the two SPD officers who were present at the DC insurrection on January 6. They are allowed to appeal this termination. The other four SPD officers who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally aren’t receiving any discipline.
SPOG is objecting to the new COVID vaccine mandate for city employees, saying the adoption date won’t allow sufficient time to bargain the impacts of it (for example, bargaining for payment for receiving the vaccine, getting paid time off for any vaccine side effects, etc.) SPOG further says this mandate might drive more officers to leave the department.

Meanwhile, in Washington State….

Melissa Santos recently published an investigation in Crosscut finding that at least 22 police officers in Washington state who have landed on the Brady list have still been able to secure employment in law enforcement at other departments. There is some disagreement whether new laws passed this year in the state legislature apply retroactively. The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which licenses police officers, told Crosscut “it does not plan to go back in time to try to suspend or revoke officers’ certifications for past offenses. Commission spokesperson Megan Saunders wrote in an email that the state attorney general’s office has advised that the new law should not apply retroactively.”

Recent Headlines

More police presence won't save communities. Defunding police will.

A Time of Big Change for Seattle Read More »

SPD Budget Talks Are Back on the Menu

Yes, yes, we all want to talk about the primary results, but first let’s look at some local news that’s getting less coverage, shall we?

What’s up with the SPD’s latest budget request?

We found out more at Tuesday’s Finance and Housing committee meeting. As you may remember, last week an SPD memo outlining how the department would like to use an anticipated $15m in salary savings in 2021 was released. So far, the Mayor has transmitted one piece of legislation that would authorize the spending of some of this salary savings for SPD hiring bonuses ($15k for lateral transfers and $7500 for recruits) and asks the council to remove their provisos so SPD could also spend salary savings on separation fees and other expenses. In order to enact the rest of the spending plan laid out in the memo, other pieces of legislation (that don’t yet exist) would need to be passed as well.
The Council has a choice here. They can choose to do some of this legislative work through the mid-year supplemental budget that they are working on right now in the Finance and Housing committee. They could do it with separate legislation through the Public Safety and Human Services department; there is a plan to transit a bill from the Executive’s Office in late August that would address allowing SPD to accept this year’s grants, which could also act as a vehicle for enacting some of this spending, for example. Or they could do a combination of both.
CM Herbold signaled her desire to pass some elements through the supplemental budget, which is likely to be faster. In particular, she said she’d like to place a down payment on the $2m for the Regional Peacemakers Collaborative, provide funding for the purchase of the protocol system needed by CSCC dispatch system (to be used by Triage One), provide funding to fill existing positions for CSOs and crime prevention coordinators, and make some technology investments. She also is interested in amendments that would provide money for more evidence locker storage, money for public disclosure request handling, and possibly funding for a community-based crisis response program pilot focused on Lake City. Most of these funding requests are the same as those in CM Herbold’s failed bill from earlier this spring. She is also interested in removing two provisos, one related to SPD Harbor Patrol spending and one related to SPD out-of-order layoffs, which the Council now knows aren’t possible to enact.
To reiterate, the SPD is proposing spending only about 10% of the year’s salary savings on community safety reinvestments. Central Staff cautioned the Council more than once that they may need to take a proactive step in telling SPD they cannot use funds for certain things if they disagree with any proposed spending areas. CM Mosqueda brought up the City’s severe shortage of human services personnel and asked whether there had been any comparable proposals brought forth to also provide incentive pay for those positions. The answer, of course, was no.
There will be more policy details discussed at the next Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, which will be next Tuesday, August 10. Then the CMs will dive back into the supplemental budget and proposed amendments at the next Finance and Housing committee meeting on Tuesday, August 17, where they will have a possible committee vote. Because of the summer recess, the supplemental budget will not be voted on by Full Council until Tuesday, September 7. All of these meetings will give opportunity for public comment.

Other Seattle News

Good morning and welcome to Seattle’s Council Briefing! Also… it’s August already? 😮
At Monday’s Council Briefing, CM Strauss complained about the Executive’s Office holding up funding that has been allocated to stand up more homelessness resources. CM Herbold is introducing a bill that will transfer the parking enforcement officers out of SPD into the Community Safety and Communications Center.
The next consent decree status conference is coming up on Tuesday, August 10 in the afternoon. The CPC has won the right to speak at the meeting. Also coming up tomorrow is the hearing with Chief Diaz for the two SPD officers against whom OPA sustained findings for their participation in the DC insurrection on January 6.
People Power WA - Police Accountability
There has been a dangerous and false narrative circulating that the defund the police movement is responsible for an uptick in community violence. This ignores several key facts.
UPDATED THREAD. You’re going to hear a lot about how cops need more resources because “crime is surging” in the next few months. It’s propaganda, and here’s how you can respond:

Primary Results

Turnout was low for this election, not surprising given it’s an odd year primary. Not all the votes have been counted yet, but we have a fairly clear picture of several of the races at this point.
Competing for Seattle mayor will most likely be Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González. Be on the lookout for sexism that will likely come to play during that campaign. For Seattle City Council Seat 8, CM Mosqueda has a healthy lead over all competitors. For Seattle City Council Seat 9, it looks like a race between Sara Nelson and Nikkita Oliver. And the City Attorney’s race is still in a dead heat between the three candidates; we’ll have to wait until more votes are counted to learn the final results of that one.
In King County, Dow Constantine has a solid lead over challenger Joe Nguyen. For King County Council, it’s possible incumbent Republican Kathy Lambert could be unseated in the General by challenger Sarah Perry, while incumbent Republicans Pete Von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn held healthy majorities in their races.
Finally, if you need a mood booster, check out these optimistic election predictions over at Crosscut and get some rest before we dig into more campaigning work this fall.

Recent Headlines

SPD Budget Talks Are Back on the Menu Read More »

Chief Diaz’s reversal of the Pink Umbrella case decision continues to cause concern

Seattle: Participatory Budgeting News

 

CM Morales has said the partipatory budgeting program is now clearly delayed until next year. An updated agenda for the Community Economic Development meeting taking place tomorrow at 2pm was released this morning, re-introducing a participatory budgeting discussion as an agenda item, where we will hear from a NYC Councilmember as well as Sean Goode from Choose 180. You can read the related draft legislation lifting the PBP proviso here, which I believe is still being reviewed by the law department.
At the Council Briefing this morning, CM Morales said the plan is to give around $1m to the Office of Civil Rights to hire three people to issue an RFP to an outside administrator for the PBP process, as well as to provide various support functions. Kevin Schofield said on the Seattle News & Brews episode released today that the OCR is quite a small department budget-wise so this is huge for them, and CM Morales hasn’t been talking to the Office of Civil Rights to see if they want to do this work.
Nevertheless, CM Morales is pushing forward and said she hopes this proviso lift can be voted on during a special meeting of her committee on June 3, leading to a Full Council vote. Both tomorrow’s meeting at 2pm and the June 3rd meeting would be good times to plan to give public comment in support of this participatory budgeting process.
CM Herbold signaled she might be adding an amendment to the legislation to move the 911 call center and PEOs out of the SPD to allow the PEOs more time to resolve differences and figure out which department would be best suited as their new home.

Seattle Scandals

 

Controversy surrounds Chief Diaz’s recent decision to overturn the OPA finding regarding the pink umbrella case. At this morning’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold, the Chair of the Public Safety committee, spoke about her correspondence with the Chief over this matter, including the bombshell that there is new evidence that has surfaced that wasn’t in the OPA investigation. CM Herbold says she is holding her judgment until she finds out more about what happened up the chain of command, but CM Lewis asked some pointed questions about whether this new information had been turned over to the OPA and whether the Chief is taking it upon himself to continue this investigation or whether the OPA will be doing so, as well as concerns that norms aren’t being followed. You can find all the related emails of this exchange over at SCC Insight along with a summary of the issues involved.

The most caustic article yet has been published on the scandal involving the missing text messages of Mayor Durkan, former Chief Best, and Chief Scoggins, saying:
…the context suggests a coverup. These suspicions are bolstered by the fact that five members of senior command at the Seattle Police Department also deleted their text messages. That means the question of who ordered the abandonment of East Precinct hasn’t been definitively answered, with both Durkan and former Police Chief Carmen Best denying they gave the order. It’s possible a subordinate made the call independently as they claim, but without the text messages to confirm this story, it’s a very convenient explanation.

Meanwhile, in King County…

 

The South Seattle Emerald has started an excellent series of investigative journalism by Carolyn Bick on the pushback and internal pressure faced by former OLEO Director Jacobs, OLEO being the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight for King County. She appears to have faced a years-long campaign against her by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the King County Police Officer’s Guild. Here are a few key quotes:

They said that this culture of law enforcement pushback against civilian oversight and closing ranks had always been present but has grown much more pronounced under Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. These same sources also said that the KCPOG had been particularly hostile towards Jacobs over a similar period of time.
The pressure and roadblocks Jacobs faced during her tenure aren’t unique to Jacobs and the KCSO, according to civilian law enforcement oversight experts who spoke with the Emerald. Even former Sheriff Urquhart, who sat down with the Emerald for an interview on May 10, 2021, agreed that Jacobs faced an internal campaign to oust her and said that “there’s something about a reformer … they just don’t last long here [in King County].
and
In other words, the new contract appears to prevent investigators from consulting or commissioning reports from any expert whose findings KCSO determines are critical of findings by an expert KCSO consulted in its original administrative investigation of a matter, such as a police shooting. The contract seems to block OLEO from including rebuttal experts in their investigative reports or testimony.
The entire article is worth a read and puts into clear relief why an elected sheriff can sometimes be unfortunate , leading to internal politicking and backstabbing and getting in the way of much-needed reform. In an interview with Publicola, King County Executive Dow Constantine says, “I think that the ability of the executive and the council to hire and fire the sheriff dramatically increases accountability. Having the sheriff be elected creates deep rifts within the sheriff’s office, it creates these political camps that continue to war long after the election is over. And that is profoundly unhealthy. So I think this is a real step forward.”
As a reminder, King County’s Sheriff is supposed to change over to a new appointed Sheriff (as opposed to an elected one) at the beginning of next year because of a measure that passed in last November’s general election.

Chief Diaz’s reversal of the Pink Umbrella case decision continues to cause concern Read More »

Seattle City Council Unlikely to Release SPD Provisos Just Yet

Seattle Public Safety and HSD Meeting

 

Let’s start with Tuesday’s Seattle Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, shall we? The meeting had two agenda items. The first, regarding moving the 911 call center and parking enforcement officers out of SPD and into the new Community Safety and Communications Center, had disagreement because the management of the PEOs believe they should instead be moved to SDOT, while the rank and file parking enforcement officers prefer a move to the new Center. The CMs passed the bill with a divided report, meaning its discussion and vote in full Council is delayed until May 24, in the hopes the two sides of the issue might reach some consensus by then.

The second agenda item was the substituted bill that originally was regarding a $5.4m cut to the SPD for overspending in 2020. It’s worth noting current estimates say there will be $13m of SPD salary savings due to attrition this year, and if attrition rates remain the same as they have been the first four months of the year, that figure could increase. However, after the Federal Monitor sent a letter to Council opposed to any cuts whatsoever, CM Herbold introduced an amendment she hoped would appease him and the Court, releasing a different SPD proviso of $2.5m regarding out-of-order layoffs to lay off SPD officers on the Brady list. The Council has determined that because of existing state law and current SPD hiring policies (they hire laid-off officers first and are currently hiring), out-of-order layoffs are not feasible at this time. This amendment passed with a 3-2 vote (Herbold, Lewis, and González yes, Morales and Sawant no) and was added to the bill.

The amended bill was brought to a vote, and CMs Morales, Sawant, and González all opposed it, although for slightly different reasons. The bill is moving to full Council on May 24 with a recommendation not to pass. If the bill doesn’t pass, the status quo would be maintained regarding the budget passed last November, and these provisos could be revisited later in the year.
For those keeping track, that means the full Council meeting on May 24 will include a vote on moving the 911 call center and PEOs to the Community Safety and Communications Center; a vote on whether to lift these $5.4m and $2.5m SPD provisos; and potentially the vote on releasing the participatory budgeting funds. It’s definitely a date to mark on your calendars!

Election News

 

Hacks & Wonks continues their electoral interview series with an interview with candidate for Seattle City Council, Position 9, Sara Nelson. In the interview, Nelson says she opposes the Jumpstart tax and wants to focus on jobs and helping struggling small businesses, but then was unaware that the Jumpstart recovery package includes $18m in small business recovery investments. When discussing public safety, she says, “Yeah. I think that we need to bring back the Crisis Intervention Team. Because – that – that, you know – I think his name was Derek – that was a situation that was tragic.” I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions here.
We also have yet another Seattle mayoral candidate, Art Langlie, whose main qualification for the job appears to be that his grandfather was once the governor of Washington. As the Seattle Times reports, “State Public Disclosure Commission filings show he has donated to incumbent Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, as well as the late Republican state Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond, and GOP candidate Jinyoung Englund, who lost a 2017 race for Hill’s seat.”
Finally, Publicola reported SPOG asked its members to participate in signature-gathering events for the Recall Sawant campaign last weekend. If we weren’t clear about whose interests are served by this campaign, this news might elucidate the issue.

Other News of Note

 

Campaign Zero and Tableau have released police department scorecards for municipal and county law enforcement offices across the country, based on the following data: “We submitted public records requests to local police departments and combined the data obtained from these departments with federal databases tracking crime, arrests, financial and personnel records from thousands of municipal and county governments.”
Of ranked Washington state counties, King County has the worst ranking at 36%. Seattle has the worst score of all ranked Washington state cities at 33%. A few key findings for Seattle: SPD has more police funding per capita than 89% of departments. 50% of all arrests made from 2013-19 were for low-level, non-violent offenses. A Black person was 5.7x as likely and a Latinx person was 2.2x as likely to be killed by police than a White person in Seattle from 2013-20. You can dig through the site to find further illuminating statistics.
Interested in some of the problems that have been plaguing implementation of Seattle’s participatory budgeting process? KUOW did an in-depth piece highlighting some of the issues:
The city employee said the issues currently surrounding participatory budgeting implementation aren’t unique.
“This is fundamentally a sort of a pattern that the city has engaged in when it comes to communities of color: not having viable conversations and putting the community in the space of being stuck between the mayor’s office and the council whenever there’s a conflict. And holding up resources that ought to be moving forward.”
Meanwhile, SPD Chief Diaz overturned the OPA’s decision about the pink umbrella protest clash of last summer, deciding not to discipline the officer in question. Unfortunately this decision is likely to continue to erode community trust in the police department and the accountability system that is currently in place.
The saga of Mayor Durkan’s missing text messages continues, as it has been revealed one of her phones was set to delete text messages after 30 days, the quickest delete setting possible.

Recent Headlines

 

King County Council delays vote on facial recognition ban | The Seattle Times

Seattle 911 response times climbed in summer 2020. Now, police and activists debate what comes next. | The Seattle Times

Seattle City Council Unlikely to Release SPD Provisos Just Yet Read More »