Proud Boys ruse

The Debate over ShotSpotter in Seattle Continues, While King County Takes Up Juvenile Solitary Confinement

Seattle News:

A new op-ed critical of ShotSpotter being in Seattle’s 2024 budget was published this week. There will also be a webinar about ShotSpotter next Wednesday, November 8 at 5:30pm; it will live stream on YouTube and has a Facebook event page.

Speaking of ShotSpotter, at last Friday’s budget meeting, an amendment was proposed to cut $1.5 million from the Crime Prevention Pilot proposed in the Mayor’s budget (this would cut all funding associated with ShotSpotter and CCTV cameras, while leaving money for license plate readers) and instead use these funds to pay for behavioral health services at tiny home villages that have been partially defunded in the 2024 budget. These services allow tiny home villages to house folks with higher acuity needs than they’d otherwise be able to take. 

CM Herbold said she was disappointed that it didn’t appear any additional community engagement has happened over the use of ShotSpotter since last year. Apparently about a month after her request to Senior Deputy Mayor Tim Burgess for the studies he said existed to back up his claim that uniting the ShotSpotter technology with CCTV cameras improved its accuracy rate and its admissibility as evidence in court, he finally sent her some studies. Six of these studies only spoke to the potential benefits of CCTV cameras, with no mention at all of ShotSpotter acoustic gun detection technology. One final document sent was a suggestion found in a guide that one might pair the two technologies, but this didn’t include any study nor reference to a study.

CM Pedersen said we needed to fund ShotSpotter and CCTV cameras because of SPD’s low staffing levels. Perhaps he is not familiar with this study, which found: “Although the study is limited to one city, results indicate AGDS may be of little benefit to police agencies with a pre-existing high call volume. Our results indicate no reductions in serious violent crimes, yet AGDS increases demands on police resources.”

CM Nelson said, “I think there is probably evidence on both sides of the argument depending on which study you’re looking at.” She then failed to present a single study supporting the use of ShotSpotter. 

There was a marathon budget meeting to discuss all the councilmembers’ proposed amendments last Friday. Besides the one using ShotSpotter funding for behavioral health services for tiny home villages, here are some of particular note:

  • Two amendments add funding for domestic violence survivors, including one for mobile community-based survivor supports.
  • Two amendments add funding for inflationary adjustments and a 2% provider pay equity increase for ALL human services worker contracts (some of them were excluded from this in the initial proposal), although one of the sources of funding has raised some questions.
  • A State of Legislative Intent (SLI) requesting HSD and CSCC/CARE perform a gap analysis of the City’s current and priority investments in gun violence prevention as compared to the recommendations in the King County Regional Community Safety and Wellbeing (RCSWB) Plan, and identify complementary, duplicative, or gaps in services provided by the City and King County. 
  • Additional dollars for both the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) ($50k) and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) ($222k)
  • A proviso asking SPD to resume their contract with Truleo, which provides technology to review body worn camera footage. There is a long storied history behind this one, but it seems worth mentioning ACLU WA has historically been against the use of this technology for privacy and civil rights reasons. 

CM Mosqueda also laid out her plan for discussing new progressive revenue options, as well as other budget-related legislation that isn’t required to balance the 2024 budget. Initial proposals will be discussed on Wednesday, November 15. There will be an additional budget committee meeting after the budget is passed by Full Council (theoretically on November 21) to discuss and vote on these progressive revenue proposals. That extra meeting will be on Thursday, November 30, and should any legislation pass that day, it will then move to a Full Council vote on Tuesday, December 5.

It is pressing for the Council to discuss new progressive revenue options due to the forthcoming budget deficit, which for 2025 currently sits at $251 million. Any new revenue that is passed by Council would need time to be implemented, so in order to have new revenue to fill that budget gap in 2025, legislation would need to be passed sooner rather than later.

New progressive revenue options you can expect to see include a proposal for a small city-wide capital gains tax and the potential repeal of an extant water fee/tax. Councilmember Sawant has proposed two amendments that would require small increases to the current JumpStart payroll tax; these amendments would fund mental health counselors for schools ($20 million) and pay increases for city workers ($40 million). CMs Herbold and Mosqueda co-sponsored both these amendments.

In addition, there has been some talk of a CEO pay ratio tax. This could be instituted as another layer of the JumpStart payroll tax, to be levied on total payroll and applying only to corporations that exceed the CEO pay ratio. It is unclear how much additional revenue this would generate.

The Affected Persons Program, originally funded in the 2023 budget, did not have its work group implemented by the OPA this year. In response, it has had its funding moved over to HSD to contract with a community-based organization to coordinate the workgroup.

SPD’s New Ruse Policy

SPD announced their new ruse policy to much fanfare this week. This policy was created in response to the infamous Proud Boy ruse during the 2020 protests, as well as another ruse by SPD in 2018 in which an officer lied to the friend of a suspect in a fender bender, saying a woman was in critical condition because of the crash. The suspect committed suicide about a month later.

The new policy outlines the circumstances in which a ruse is allowed to be conducted. They are no longer supposed to be used for the investigation of misdemeanor property crimes. Perhaps most strikingly, they are also not allowed to be broadcast over radio, social media, or any other mass media format, a rule that, had it been in place in 2020, might have prevented the Proud Boy ruse. Officers are also supposed to consult with a supervisor before instigating a ruse, although only when “reasonably practical,” which seems like a potentially large loophole.

There are also now new requirements for documenting patrol ruses, which has led to some speculation over how many ruses will actually be documented in the manner described in the policy, as well as how much extra time (and potentially overtime) this might require. The word “ruse” is required to be specifically used in these reports, which could potentially make public disclosure requests around these sorts of police actions a bit easier to implement. 

What this new policy doesn’t directly address is the lack of communication that may have led public officials such as Seattle Public Utilities’ Emergency Manager into believing and making decisions based on their belief in the Proud Boy ruse.

Black Officers Alleging Discrimination at UW Police Department

Back in 2021, five Black officers at the UW Police Department filed a claim alleging dozens of incidents of racial discrimination in their workplace. Jury selection for this trial, which involves claims of over $8 million, began last week. Apparently an outside review was done of the department in 2019, which found a “culture of fear.” And yet UW President Ana Mari Cauce expressed surprise at the lawsuit since the review didn’t mention racism as a concern. How it would have uncovered such a thing given the aforementioned culture of fear is an open question.

King County News:

Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

The King County Council is discussing a new ordinance to replace the ordinance they passed in 2017 banning solitary confinement for juveniles, with a possible vote planned for this coming Tuesday.

First, some scene setting: King County’s youth detention facility has been experiencing staffing shortages. Right now 73 detention officers are employed there, while they are funded for 91 officers. This year they have hired 20 new detention officers while 21 detention officers have left their positions, leaving the facility with a small net negative for the year in terms of staffing numbers. 

The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention say they would like the juvenile solitary confinement ordinance changed in order to be able to provide one-on-one programming to juveniles at the facility. This would involve a change to the definition of solitary confinement.  But advocates, including ACLU Washington, the King County Department of Public Defense, and Team Child, have brought up a few concerns:

  • Due to the continued staffing shortage, advocates are worried staffing issues might become an exemption to the ban of solitary confinement for juveniles. While Councilmember Balducci’s proposed striker amendment does improve upon this, they desire to see stronger language clarifying that staffing issues won’t become an exemption to this regulation, especially in order to prevent solitary confinement being justified as needed due to a facility safety issue.
  • The ban on juvenile solitary confinement does not include any enforcement mechanism for violations. Without a means of enforcing the right to not be put into solitary confinement, the ban doesn’t necessarily protect juveniles in practice. Advocates are asking for a system that allows kids who have been illegally held in solitary confinement to be able to collect damages without having to file a lawsuit as a means of enforcement. 

If you would like to weigh in on this issue, you can email or call your King County councilmembers and/or give public comment in person or remotely at the committee meeting on Tuesday, November 7 at 9:30am.

Drugs in King County Jail

According to an indictment, a former King County Jail guard allegedly accepted bribes to bring methamphetamine and fentanyl into the King County Jail for two inmates. 

In response, Executive Constantine released the following statement

“The charges alleged in this indictment represent not just a breach of public safety, but a disdain for the trust placed in those we count on to serve and protect. I want to make clear – the charges against this former employee and his co-conspirators tarnish the work that our corrections officers do every day to serve their community with professionalism and the highest standards of care.

The public can count on King County to continue doing everything we can to stop fentanyl and other contraband from entering our correctional facilities.”

Once again, this calls into question the intentions behind Seattle’s drug criminalization bill passed earlier this fall, given some of the people arrested due to this bill will end up in a jail in which illegal drugs are potentially circulating.

WA State News:

Finally, a small tidbit of what is to come during the next state legislative session beginning in January 2024:

Meanwhile, more help will be sought to fill the ranks of law enforcement agencies. The Association of Washington Cities wants the Legislature to update the local Public Safety Sales Tax to allow councils to use the funds to boost officer pay and increase behavioral health resources. It’s also asking the state to offer more classes at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy and expand regional academies.”

Recent Headlines:

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More Ruse News, Fewer Stops for Traffic Infractions

WA State Legislature News

First up today we have HB 1788, which would un-do reforms made last year with HB 1054 and revert to a previous standard of Reasonable Suspicion for vehicular pursuits. People Power Washington – Police Accountability OPPOSES this bill.
Next up we have several bills up for executive session in the House on this Thursday, January 20: HB1756 (solitary confinement), HB1507 (independent prosecutor), HB1735 (limiting the types of court orders where officers can use force), and HB1719 (clarifies use of certain less lethal weapons). You can email the members of the Public Safety committee to urge them to pass some or all of these bills out of committee. Email addresses and a script are available here.

Seattle News

Carolyn Bick has updated their story on the SPD ruse scandal and it’s worth another read:
According to Converge Media’s Jan. 12 Morning Update show, new Mayor Bruce Harrell said when questioned by Converge Media at a press conference that same morning that none of the EOC staff told him they knew about the ruse or had information about it.
“A couple of days ago, I was at the Office of Emergency Management, talking to its director and its assistant director … and we asked the question, ‘Did you know there was a ruse going on?‘” Harrell said. “As you know, OEM [Office of Emergency Management] was activated … and they said they did not know there was a ruse — which then, in our inquiry, raises some issues, that if they are making tactical decisions based on false information, that is problematic.”
They also included communications from SCSO (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office), including an email sent the day before the ruse took place, in which Sgt. Caterson wrote, “Thus, guys are very concerned about working down there with the current climate, the restrictions/bans, SPD policies and how they differ from our policies, etc. This is coupled with the fact that SPD officers are sitting around their respective precincts while other agencies are working their city.” This is relevant because the SPD Captain involved with planning the ruse later stated he did so after “all our mutual aid partners … had abandoned us.”
SPD Chief Diaz announced on Friday that SPD will no longer stop people for four minor traffic infractions:
  • not wearing a bicycle helmet
  • missing, expired, or improperly displayed registration
  • cracked windshields
  • items hanging from the rear-view mirror
None of these infractions pose a serious risk to safety, according to experts, and the Chief has said it’s possible other infractions will be added to the list in the future. It’s important to note this policy shift might not result in much of a change on the ground, as SPD staffing issues have already meant less policing in this area.
On Thursday Mayor Harrell announced he wants to create a third public safety department for unarmed responders who are well-trained in de-escalation techniques. While this brings up the question as to why this couldn’t simply be housed in the already existing CSCC (Community Safety and Communications Center), the location and name of such a department is less important than its getting stood up in the first place–as long as it remains independent from SPD.

Recent Headlines

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More State Bills to Support, More News on the Proud Boys Ruse

WA State Legislature News

First up we have HB 1756, a bill to end (or at least strictly limit) solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is considered to be a form of torture and is currently still practiced in WA state.
We also have HB 1507, a bill to establish an independent prosecutor within the Office of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute any alleged offense involving the use of deadly force by a police officer. This would avoid conflicts of interest with both police investigating police and county prosecutors investigating police with whom they work closely.

Seattle News

In the newest development of the 2020 SPD Proud Boys Hoax, reporter Carolyn Bick uncovered an email from the Seattle Public Utilities’ Emergency Manager in which he discusses an EOC (Emergency Operations Center) meeting he attended on June 8 and said, “SPD is preparing for a possible counter protest at Volunteer Park that could lead to significant volatility in the area. Intelligence reports that the Proud Boys group may be active in the area.” As Bick says, this means: “either other members of SPD were also in on the hoax, or they believed, at this point, that there really were Proud Boys in the City.” This has troubling implications, to say the least, especially since it appears city officials might have fallen for the SPD hoax as well.
Also troubling is that the OPA completely missed this email in their investigation of the Proud Boy ruse. Meanwhile, OPA Director Myerberg has been promoted to Public Safety Director for Seattle. It is unclear exactly how his role will mesh with that of Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell’s, but as Paul Kiefer reports in the Twitter thread below, it seems likely his duties will include contract negotiations with the police unions.
Paul Faruq Kiefer
At a press conference at city hall (happening right now), Mayor Harrell notes that he can’t make comments on the people responsible for the Proud Boys ruse that might influence the Loudermill hearing to which those officers are entitled before SPD determines discipline.

Seattle’s Public Safety committee discussed the Proud Boys ruse at their meeting on Tuesday:

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. The new committee: CM Herbold is chair, and also serving are CMs Lewis, Mosqueda, Petersen, and Nelson.
Also attending the meeting were Director Myerberg, CPC Director Grant, and Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell. Harrell spoke about the importance of focusing on accountability and transparency. CM Lewis reflected on the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Jones in the summer of 2020 in which he determined SPD was specifically targeting protesters and using harsher tactics and more use of force because of the subject of the protests. CM Lewis also pointed to a pattern of people in SPD high command not knowing what was going on.
CM Herbold asked if discipline for officers ought to be left to the Chief, questioning the OPA’s decision to issue findings of “allegation removed” for four named officers involved in the ruse who were further down the chain of command. No solid next steps were outlined in regards to next steps or how these severe accountability issues might be addressed.
Carolyn Bick has also followed up on the 2020 SPOG HQ Labor Day protest story, given the arrest of an involved man late last year. You may remember that in the OPA DCM on this case, there were three different suspects identified by various pieces of clothing. The man arrested, whose name is Moore, was “Tan Gloves” in that DCM. As Bick explains:
Thus, this complaint confirms exactly what the Emerald laid out in that story: Moore was never targeted for arrest, and the OPA incorrectly conflated Moore with what appear to be two other, separate people (though one was never caught on BWV, an issue discussed in said story).

Recent Headlines

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WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD’s Proud Boys “Ruse”

WA State Legislature News

There are several public safety-related bills that I’ll be talking about during the current session of the Washington State Legislature, which opened today. If you live anywhere in Washington State, you are eligible to give your feedback on these bills.
First up we have HB 1202, the qualified immunity bill. This bill would provide a cause of action for victims injured by police officer violence and authorizes the Attorney General to investigate employers (eg police departments) and police officers engaging in particular patterns of conduct.
Next are a couple of bills related to 2021’s HB 1310, which I referred to last year as the de-escalation bill. A big push from the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is to OPPOSE HB 1726, which would change for the standard of use of force from that of established probable cause (this is part of what HB 1310 did) to that of reasonable suspicion that requires no evidence.
HB 1735 also relates to last year’s HB 1310, explicitly stating that police officers are not prevented from helping medical professionals and behavioral health providers and must perform live-saving measures such as medical assistance. The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability supports this bill.
On Thursday, January 13, there will be hearings for both the solitary confinement bill and the independent prosecutor bill, so I’ll send out information on Wednesday for how to register your support and submit written comments about these two bills.
For more information on housing, land use, and digital equity bills you might wish to support, please check out Share the Cities Action Fund’s recent newsletter.

Seattle News

Late last week the OPA released a closed case summary revealing the SPD had engaged in an improper “ruse” during the 2020 summer protests. In this misinformation effort, they fabricated radio chatter about armed Proud Boys marching around downtown Seattle and heading to confront protesters in Capitol Hill, information that was relayed to the protesters, further escalating the situation and undermining the protest.
As The Seattle Times explains: “Police are allowed to use a ruse only when undercover, to acquire information for a criminal investigation or to address “an exigent threat to life safety or public safety.” Even then, state law says a ruse can’t be so “shocking” as to violate “fundamental fairness.” None of those conditions applied to the Proud Boys chatter, Myerberg determined.”
This ruse was covered up and only came to light when journalist Omari Salisbury asked for body camera footage related to this at the end of 2020. The OPA launched an investigation when this footage couldn’t be located , completed in September 2021, but the release of the closed case summary was delayed further until last week. No discipline is likely to result from the case as the two officers who ordered and supervised this misinformation effort have both since left the SPD.
If you would like to share your thoughts about this “ruse” and its subsequent coverup, you have a chance to give public comment at Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 11 at 9:30am. Signups begin tomorrow morning at 7:30am and can be done online here.
Also tomorrow, Tuesday January 11 from 6-8pm is the first of three joint CPC and Court Monitor community engagement meetings. You can get the agenda and Zoom link here. The topic of this month’s meeting is crisis intervention, and there will be a chance for community members to ask questions and speak about what they’d like to see in terms of crisis intervention in the city of Seattle.
That’s all for now, but you’ll hear from me again in a couple of days to talk about a few state bills and more evidence uncovered in the Labor Day 2020 SPOG HQ protest case.

WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD’s Proud Boys “Ruse” Read More »