SPD police chief

Wrapping Up 2022

Seattle News

Some big Seattle City Council election news this past week! Both CM Herbold and CP Juarez have announced their intention not to run for re-election for their City Council seats next year. CP Juarez has always been clear about her intention to serve two terms, but much has been said about CM Herbold’s remarks about her decision. When comparing the upcoming D1 race to last year’s City Attorney race, it is important to remember a few key points. First, a district race is very different in character from a city-wide race. Second, one of the issues in the City Attorney’s primary was the lack of campaigning from Pete Holmes until the last second. And finally, Ann Davison’s campaign massively outspent Nicole Thomas-Kennedy’s campaign. So while the 2021 City Attorney’s race was certainly very interesting, we need to be cautious about the parallels we draw between these two races.

It does seem like the moderate council members, of which CM Herbold is one, face a messaging problem in this upcoming election. More conservative voters might disapprove of these CMs committing to trying to remove up to 50% from the police budget to reallocate for other public safety strategies back in 2020 (never mind that they never came close to this number), while very progressive voters might be disappointed at what could be characterized as a wishy-washy follow-through to that commitment.

It is interesting to note that CM Mosqueda, who is typically seen as a more progressive CM, won her city-wide race handily in 2021; she was one of seven council members to back the 50% defund pledge in 2020, but she has been more consistent and effective in her messaging and explaining her values than many of her colleagues.

The Public Safety committee voted unanimously to appoint Interim Chief Diaz as SPD’s new police chief. This is in spite of his lack of support of police alternatives, including the seemingly never-ending analysis of 911 calls the SPD has undertaken in spite of the fact that many other comparable cities have somehow managed to figure out how to implement civilian response programs without drowning in violence and death as a result. In addition, as Erica C. Barnett reports in PubliCola:
While transferring some low-risk work to trained civilian responders would be one way to free up SPD officers for police work and investigations, another option could be reducing the amount of overtime police burn through directing traffic and providing security for sports events, which added up to more than 91,000 hours through October of this year. Diaz didn’t seem particularly open to this suggestion, either, noting that there is always a risk of violence at large events, such as someone trying to drive through a barricade.
Meanwhile, in an act of breathtaking pettiness, the Seattle Municipal Court elected their new presiding judge without allowing recently elected new judge Pooja Vaddadi and recently elected returning judge Damon Shadid the chance to vote. As Erica C. Barnett in PubliCola says:
According to local court rule 10.2, the municipal court judges are supposed to elect a new presiding judge “within 30 days after [a] vacancy occurs.” Because Eisenberg will not vacate his position until next January, Vaddadi told PubliCola, “this action… was not appropriate, nor was it in line with [the local rule] for a minority of the judges to hold a secret vote to elect a presiding and assistant presiding judge.”

This action by the other sitting judges seems to exhibit both a lack of professionalism and respect for the law governing the institution.

Regional News

The Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer was found not guilty of false reporting today. While the verdict is not surprising in a country that rarely holds police accountable, this case appeared like a clear example of police overreach:

An investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, commissioned last year by the Pierce County Council, found Troyer had violated policies on bias-free policing and other professional standards. Moran’s report, released in October 2021, noted that Troyer had given shifting statements about the encounter to media, his neighbors, and police.

The King County Auditor released a report on the County’s incarceration alternative and diversion programs this week that found a lack of strategic direction and data coordination between the 12 existing programs. This deficit makes it hard to tell whether the County has implemented the right programs, how they could complement each other, or if they need more capacity. It also found the County’s criminal legal agencies collect race data in different ways, making it difficult to meaningfully analyze racial disparities in those agencies.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is looking for applicants for their Community Advisory Board. Applications will be accepted through the end of January. It is unclear why King County is forming a new advisory board instead of continuing the extant King County Public Safety Advisory Committee, although it is possible for members of that body to apply for the new board.

Governor Inslee introduced his proposed 2023-25 budget today. Included in his proposal are additional investments in law enforcement training. Washington State currently runs two academies in the state, the main one in Burien and a smaller one in Spokane. The governor is proposing funding for seven additional Basic Law Enforcement Academy classes per year, including four at two new regional campuses, in order to reduce the waiting time for training and increase the output of trained officers per year. He also wishes to invest in grants to help local agencies pay for their share of training costs and increase recruitment efforts. The total proposed investment for these additions would be $16.16m.

The Washington Coalition of Police Accountability (WCPA) announced four new bills related to policing that will be discussed during the upcoming legislative session (which begins on January 9). The most promising might be the “Traffic Safety for All” bill that would limit traffic stops and provide a pool of money for low-income drivers to keep their vehicles in compliance with traffic laws. The other three are: a Washington Attorney General pattern-or-practice law that would allow the state to sue departments that systemically violate the law, not unlike federal consent decrees but at the state level; the establishment of an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute police misconduct at the state level; and revoking qualified immunity for police officers on the state level. I’m also hoping we’ll see the bill for ending solitary confinement in Washington again this session.

Housekeeping

The Seattle City Council has their Winter Recess from December 19 through January 1st.

Revue, the host of this newsletter, will be discontinued as of January 18. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already begun the process of researching alternatives, and I’m hoping to use the City Council break to make some real headway in setting up a new delivery system for Notes from the Emerald City. My plan will be to automatically add my subscribers’ email addresses to the new system to keep the changeover as painless as possible.

For those of you who are paid subscribers, first of all, thank you for your support! On December 20, Revue will set all outstanding paid subscriptions to cancel at the end of their billing cycle. I expect to be setting up some new kind of payment system, and I’ll let you know the details when I have them.

In the meantime, I’m wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season. I hope you find some time to rest and rejuvenate; I have a feeling 2023 is going to be an eventful year!

Recent Headlines

Seattle Is Ignoring Major Support for Social Housing - The Stranger

King County jail diversion programs not collecting enough data | The Seattle Times

Is Burlington, Vermont suffering a crime wave because "woke" officials cut police funding? Probably not.

A wave breaks? In downtown Seattle, crime is now falling | The Seattle Times

Former Office of Police Accountability director files a lawsuit alleging city interfered with former BPD chief investigation

Wrapping Up 2022 Read More »

Mayor Asks for CPC’s Assistance in Bringing Cops Back into Seattle Schools

Seattle News

Mayor Harrell announced his choice for the next SPD police chief on Tuesday: interim Chief Adrian Diaz. Publicola analyzed this choice succinctly:
This approach, like the choice of Diaz itself, represents a commitment to the status quo: Reform, not a radical rethinking of the relationship between police and the communities they serve. Aggressive hiring, rather than redistributing some duties to non-police responders. More and better officer training, rather than example-setting discipline for cops who abuse their power. Even Diaz’s characterization of the 2020 protests outside the East Precinct, which he repeatedly referred to as “riots” both yesterday and during his Seattle Channel interview, represents a pre-2020 perspective in which police are the only bulwark against everything from violent crime to people protesting against police violence.
At the press conference, Mayor Harrell promised that in his proposed budget being delivered next Tuesday, we will see investments in his strategy of a whole “third way of policing”, although he wasn’t immediately familiar with the term sheet and related work the Public Safety committee discussed last week. He also mentioned that he sees employees such as park rangers and MID-funded ambassadors downtown as alternative public safety responses.
There has been recent controversy around the idea of hiring more park rangers (potentially expanding their numbers from 2 to 26), who some activists think are police officers by another name. While park rangers do not carry guns, they are able to give citations and exclusion orders, which are traditionally duties associated with police officers, and community members have complained about the two existing park rangers treating homeless people poorly during sweeps.
The Seattle Parks funding plan will receive a final vote right after the 2pm Full Council meeting on Tuesday, September 27th. The current proposal funds the new park rangers but includes a spending restriction stating that no park district funds will be used for park rangers to participate in clearing encampments, and that park rangers will continue to issue trespass warrants as per a specific park rule.
The Full Council voted to confirm the appointment of Gino Betts as the new Director of the OPA yesterday 8-1, with CM Sawant casting the sole “nay” vote, stating that her vote is more a statement about the broken state of the current accountability system in Seattle and not about the qualifications of the candidate. She called for an elected community oversight board.
Current Seattle Municipal Court Judge Adam Eisenberg, who is currently running for re-election against Pooja Vaddadi, published a book in 2009 entitled “A Different Shade of Blue” about women police officers. It received favorable (although not many total) reviews on Amazon, but James Barker, deputy general counsel for Bungie and Pooja Vaddadi’s husband, took to Twitter to share some literary criticism:
JAMS
I won’t hide the ball.
Far from highlighting their struggles, this book fetishizes, objectifies, and demeans the police officers it purports to elevate. It’s rife with casual racism, sexism, voyeuristic poverty-porn, white-saviorism, and it denigrates Seattle’s communities.
3/

Cops Back in Seattle Schools?

During an August 17 meeting between Mayor Harrell and the CPC (Community Police Commission), CPC Commissioner and Officer Mark Mullens said during our “defunding,” we removed resource officers from our schools and that this was an overreach of what defunding is. Mayor Harrell responded that they needed to earn the trust and the right to go back into the schools and that he is working with Superintendent Dr. Jones and Chairman Brandon Hersey to build those relationships to get officers back in schools. He suggested the CPC could be an invaluable asset in this space. No mention was made of how this would reestablish the school to prison pipeline or be detrimental to students’ health and safety.
At the same meeting, Mayor Harrell also suggested the CPC help him recruit new officers for SPD. The idea that the CPC, which states as part of its mission that it “listens to, amplifies, and builds common ground among communities affected by policing in Seattle,” is now being encouraged to take on the dual role of SPD PR and SPD HR is disturbing, to say the least.

Police Union Contracts

People Power Washington sent a letter to Seattle city leaders today outlining their recommendations for the SPOG contract currently being negotiated. Full disclosure, I signed this letter myself, along with my co-chair Camille Baldwin-Bonney. We recently heard contract negotiations could be wrapping up as soon as the end of the year, and we believe it is incumbent upon us to let city leaders know what we would like to see while the contract is still in the process of being negotiated, instead of treating the contract as a fait accompli once it is presented to the public. We also hope this letter helps educate community members on how police union contracts can act as impediments to accountability and equitable public safety.
The Seattle Times reported that the president of the King County Police Officers Guild said he’s hopeful they would agree to a new contract in coming weeks. This police union contract pertains to officers at the King County Sheriff’s Office.

King County Budget

On Monday Executive Dow Constantine announced a list of public safety proposals he wants to fund in King County’s 2023 budget. Publicola has provided a handy list:
$2.4 million for Vital, a program that targets “high utilizers” of the criminal justice system by providing case management and wraparound services;
$7.3 million for Restorative Community Pathways, a pre-filing diversion program for youth who commit certain first-time felonies;
$5 million for body-worn cameras, which every deputy would be required to wear by the end of 2025;
$21 million to hire 140 new security officers for King County Metro buses, transit centers, and stops.
The amount of money spent on body cameras seems disappointing, given that the program won’t be fully deployed until the end of 2025 and that the evidence of the efficacy of body camera programs is mixed at best, while they do expand police surveillance powers. You can read more about concerns about body camera programs, including discussion of a few key studies, over at the ACLU Washington’s blog.
Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said the Sheriff’s Office has hired 50 new deputies so far this year, and they hope to hire 70 more over the next two years.

Recent Headlines

Public safety is about solving tough problems, not scoring political points | The Seattle Times

KUOW - North King County cities will broaden mental-health response to 911 calls

Shelved report details 14 COVID deaths inside Washington prisons | Crosscut

Mayor Asks for CPC’s Assistance in Bringing Cops Back into Seattle Schools Read More »

Seattle May Get Its Alternative Response Pilot in 2023 After All

Chances to Act and Learn

Your next chance to weigh in on Seattle’s redistricting process is THIS Thursday, September 15th at a public forum from 6-8pm. You can either attend in person at City Hall L280 Boards and Commissions Room or call in remotely via Zoom. Either way you can register in advance with with the City. You can read a sample script here. Your last chance to weigh in will be on Saturday, October 8th from 10am-12pm.
Last week the League of Women Voters Seattle King County held their forum entitled “Public Safety and the Role of the King County Prosecutor.” You can watch this spirited and informative conversation for yourself on Youtube.
Also on Thursday evening 9/15 will be the forum for the final three candidates for SPD police chief, live on the Seattle Channel from 6-7:30pm. You can submit questions ahead of time here. If you’re not sure what to ask or want suggestions, People Power Washington has curated a list of potential questions here.

Seattle News

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting. Right now the CMs are meeting the new nominee for the head of Public Health for Seattle and King County, Dr. Khan.
At this morning’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting, two items of note were discussed.
First, the committee questioned the final candidate for OPA Director, Gino Betts Jr. You can read his written answers to several pertinent questions here. The committee voted in favor of his confirmation, with all CMs voting in favor except for CM Mosqueda, who abstained as she wishes to speak with him further as well as engage in more stakeholder dialogue. His final confirmation vote should take place at the full City Council meeting next Tuesday 9/20.
He has spoken many times of his preference for OPA to become a fully civilianized investigative body, and he has also committed to ruling on cases based on the merit of the case as opposed to ruling with an eye as to how they will fare on appeal. This morning he also suggested the next step for radical transparency would be for the OPA to release all video footage, including body-worn camera and car camera footage, as well as police reports to the public, preferably within 30 days of a complaint being filed. He also suggested if SPD was resistant to recommended policy changes, he’d engage with the OIG and CPC and also potentially make the case directly to the people of Seattle. All of these statements stand in strong contrast to the stance of his predecessor, Andrew Myerberg.
In his Q&A linked above, Gino Betts also spoke in support of mediation, a process the OPA offers but which has been little utilized since the start of the pandemic. The mediation system has often been criticized by community and advocates, so it will be interesting to see how hard he pushes for this going forward.
Second, the committee discussed the “term sheet” between the Executive and Legislative branches around work on alternative 911 response in Seattle. As regular readers of this newsletters know, all efforts to stand up alternative response over the past few years have suffered from a lack of coordination and cooperation between these two branches. This new agreement includes provisions for standing up one new alternative response in 2023, as well as further call analysis building on SPD’s risk management demand analysis in order to determine the best alternative response models going forward. The sheet also memorializes agreement over creating a policy proposal to minimize use of sworn officers for special events staffing.
Going forward then, we should expect the following:
  • money allocated in the 2023 budget for the new alternative response that will be implemented in 2023
  • SPD’s risk management demand analysis report, to be presented to the committee on Tuesday, September 27
  • a proposal for special events staffing to be available for analysis later in 2022
  • the policy document outlining the framework for permanent alternative response models in general by the end of 2022
As mentioned above, the City of Seattle announced their three finalists for the SPD police chief position. Two of the finalists already work for SPD, including Interim Chief Adrian Diaz and Assistant Chief Eric Greening. The third finalist, Kevin Hall, is an Assistant Chief of Police in Tucson, Arizona, and implemented his department’s pre-arrest deflection program. However, this program has been criticized by advocates who say it is neither effective nor equitable. Once the Mayor selects his final choice, the candidate will need to be confirmed by the City Council.

Bail Reform

A new study on bail reform in Harris County, Texas shows results of fewer low-level offenders in jail and improved public safety. If you’re interested in bail reform, you can also read civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger’s thread on the topic here:

Scott Hechinger
Please pay attention: Years into bail reform in handful of cities & states round country. Research, reports, & data all are definitive. 100,000s more people free. $100,000,000s taxpayer dollars saved. No related increase in crime. These are facts. Stop believing lies.

Recent Headlines

How Can We Fix the King County Jail Crisis? - The Stranger

Seattle-area law enforcement union chiefs push for Jim Ferrell in prosecutor race | The Seattle Times

We Need to Revisit Long Prison Sentences for Young Offenders | Time

Increasing Police Budgets Leads to Increased Misdemeanor Arrests

California Redefines the Concept of "Care"

Seattle May Get Its Alternative Response Pilot in 2023 After All Read More »

Mayor Harrell Has Been Saying Some Interesting Things at SPD Roll Calls

The news didn’t slow down THAT much at the end of August, so let’s dive in and get caught up!

Seattle News

There will be a public Q&A session for the top three candidates for SPD police chief on the evening of Thursday, September 15. You can submit questions for the event here and you can watch it on the Seattle Channel.
Andrew Myerberg was removed from his position as Director of Public Safety for Seattle. He is now “Special Projects Director” and is apparently still working on “safety related legal work, police chief search, accountability issues, etc.” Publicola reports that “Harrell said removing Myerberg from his position was just part of a six-month evaluation that involved “moving people around,” but declined to say more about what Myerberg will do in his new role.” The Mayor’s Office appears to be searching for a replacement for the Public Safety Director position.
Social Housing Initiative 135 qualified to be on the ballot in February 2023.
In MyNorthwest.com, Jason Rantz wrote about how Mayor Harrell has been visiting police precinct roll calls and speaking candidly about his thoughts on Seattle: “I don’t think anyone has a right to sleep in a public space. I don’t think anyone has a right to sleep on a sidewalk and I don’t think anyone has the right to sleep in the park.” Now there’s a quote that gets people to sit up and take notice.
There’s a lot more going on in this article though. It confirms Mayor Harrell’s commitment to ending the consent decree, and it’s the first time I’ve heard the possibility floated that the new SPOG contract negotiations could be done by the end of the year. In addition, the Mayor seems to have indicated he’s getting involved with the City Council races next year, when 7 of the 9 council members will be up for election. Hannah Krieg at The Stranger did some digging and found that Seattle’s big business faction is recruiting candidates to challenge Lisa Herbold in District 1 and Tammy Morales in District 2. Lisa Herbold currently serves as the Chair of the Public Safety and Human Resources committee, and Tammy Morales is one of the most progressive members of the Council. The Mayor also seems to be taking shots at the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (to which Seattle provides a large amount of funding) and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which has been shown to reduce recidivism.
Lastly, Jason Rantz reports that, talking to SPD officers, “many question the mayor’s recruitment and retention plan. They do not think sign-up bonuses will make a difference and they believe the only thing to retain officers would be a fair contract.” It seems not even SPD officers agree with the Mayor’s recruitment bonus plan, legislation for which passed in August.
In other news, now’s your chance to become more informed about an important race that Seattle residents will vote on in November, for Seattle Municipal Court Judge. There are two judicial positions coming to the ballot this year, and The Stranger ran profiles last week on the race between incumbent Adam Eisenberg and challenger Pooja Vaddadi:
It’s Eisenberg’s day-to-day administration of his courtroom and perceived friendliness towards prosecutors, not his work on diversion programs, that attracted an unusually well-funded opponent in this November’s general election.
In a recent survey, Eisenberg was rated lowest for impartiality amongst all his judicial colleagues. He is known for leading the development of the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, which takes a less court-focused and more rehabilitative approach to those accused of domestic violence.
Pooja Vaddadi has her own plans when it comes to supporting diversion programs from the bench:
If she does prevail in November, Vaddadi says she wants to use the relationships she’s built with elected officials on the campaign trail to advocate for more funding for diversion programs so that more low-income people can access them. She also plans to push for expanding diversion programs that prove successful at the King County Superior Court level so that people in Seattle Municipal Court can benefit from them as well.
For Vaddadi, her focus on diversion programs stems from her belief that no one is beyond help, and from a recognition that the criminal legal system creates much of the harm its proponents say they want it to prevent.
Meanwhile, cases at Seattle Community Court are surging as a result of City Attorney Davison’s policy to prosecute more cases than Pete Holmes. Low-level misdemeanors that are eligible for community court are automatically sent there, and in Q2 2022 cases sent to community court have doubled compared to Q2 of 2021. As Josh Cohen in Crosscut writes:
Though court reformers see community court as a more humane alternative to booking people into jail, they don’t necessarily see the increase in community court referrals as positive. Instead, many want to see more cases diverted into alternatives that provide social services and support before they enter the court system. According to city attorney office data, pre-filing diversions and pre-trial diversions are both down significantly compared to years before the pandemic and prior to the creation of Seattle Community Court.

King County News

There will be a forum on Thursday, September 8 at 7pm discussing the role of the King County prosecutor in the criminal punishment system and particularly, how much discretion prosecutors have. This is timely given King County will be electing a new prosecutor in November’s election. You can register for the forum here or watch it live on the League of Women Voters Youtube page.
Speaking of the King County Prosecutor, current prosecutor Dan Satterberg has asked King County Sheriff Cole-Tindall to investigate the deletion of text messages of Seattle city leaders in 2020, including then-Mayor Durkan, then-SPD Chief Best, and SFD Chief Scoggins. While this response seems a bit delayed, to say the least, it is possible Satterberg felt more able to act given his term as prosecutor will be ending shortly. You can read more about it at Axios.
Sydney Brownstone over at The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle jail (run by King County) has had an extreme suicide rate over the past year.
“It’s astronomical,” said Frances Abderhalden, an expert on jail suicides and an assistant professor of criminal justice at California State University, Los Angeles. “It begs the question to me: Why this facility? That’s a lot of death in general in one facility per year.”
In July of 2020, Executive Constantine promised to close this jail, but it is unclear what the timeline of such a closure would be, or if the promise will be kept now that the narrative around the criminal legal system has shifted due to a backlash that, if allowed to prevail, handily protects the status quo.

National News

President Biden has a new crime plan called the “Safer America” plan. Ah, does he finally intend to crack down on gun control, a problem that we know how to solve given the large number of countries that have in fact solved it? No, no, why do the obvious thing to make the US safer when you can hire more police officers instead? The plan consists of hiring 100,000 more police officers and allocating at least an additional $13 billion to America’s police budgets, which are already the largest in the world by far.
Here is Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, on the plan:

And as Eric Reinhart starts out his piece in Time Magazine:

The “war on crime” is the highest-casualty, most expensive, and longest-lasting war in American history. This coordinated assault on the nation’s poorest communities has led to tens of millions of individuals locked up in cages with deadly long-term health consequences, at least 31,000 people killed directly by police, and trillions of dollars spent on pointless punishment. For over 50 years, repeated increases to public spending on police and prisons have continually bankrolled this war while failing to ensure safety, leaving the U.S. one of the least safe countries among all wealthy nations.

Recent Headlines

What's in a Movement? Understanding Resistance, Justice & Allies

Texas Bail Reform Reduced Jail Time and Crime, New Study Says - Bloomberg

We Probably Do Not Need Cops Directing Traffic at Sports Games - The Stranger

Seattle Fire Department staff shortage forces extreme hours, $37.7M of OT | The Seattle Times

Seattle police has big backlog of open requests for public records; slow responses persist - Axios Seattle

For some, community court reduces jail bookings by 87% | Crosscut

The role WA courts play in mental health care when someone is in crisis | The Seattle Times

'We are the alternative': A growing movement aims to disrupt violence by connecting incarcerated youth with mentors | CNN

5 agencies create task force to target violent, gun-related crimes in Snohomish County

NYC's Rise of Low-Level Arrests Worry Critics of 'Broken Windows' Era - Bloomberg

Mayor Harrell Has Been Saying Some Interesting Things at SPD Roll Calls Read More »

New OPA Director Named; the SCC Continues to Push for Alternative Response Pilot

Seattle News

  • The Mayor’s Office has announced dates for the police chief search events. While these were first mentioned last week, I cannot find any public mention of the actual dates before Sunday, July 24, even though the first event listed is for…today, July 25. Once again, doesn’t seem like sufficient notice to allow people to clear space on their calendars. Here is a list of the events taking place over the next week; the event for the general public is tomorrow, July 26 from 7-8:30pm, in person and inside during the possible peak of this COVID wave. Wonderful.
  • Mayor Harrell named the new Director of the OPA, Gino Betts, who is coming to us from Chicago where he was working as the Cooke County Assistant State’s Attorney. His first day has been reported to be August 1, although since the appointment needs to be approved by the City Council, that seems like a tight timeline. It will be interesting to see how the new Director approaches the job and in what ways he departs from the precedent set by former Director Myerberg.
  • CMs Herbold and Lewis sponsored a change to the city’s 2022 budget that will allocate the $1.2m originally set aside for former Mayor Durkan’s now defunct Triage One plan to fund an emergency alternative response pilot. So a funding source has been identified, but we’ll have to see whether the Mayor’s Office is willing to compromise with the CMs to start an alternative response pilot earlier than their stated timeline.
  • Over at The South Seattle Emerald, Carolyn Bick released a three-part report related to issues with the OPA’s contact log for complaints and SPD sexual abuse data. It looks like the CPC either lost or deleted survey data that indicated possible sexual abuse by SPD officers. There also appear to be issues with how the OPA investigated a related case and how Court Monitor Oftelie and his team might have ignored a potential alternate source of this sexual abuse data. Finally, it appears the OPA might be misclassifying certain complaints as a “contact log,” meaning they are closed without investigation, even though at least some of them sound serious and may merit investigation. Relatedly, there has been a significant drop in the OIG’s concurrence rate; as Bick writes: “Additionally, the report itself noted that “[i]n the last six months of 2020, after OIG migrated to a quarterly retroactive sampling of Contact Log classifications, the concurrence rate decreased to 49%, resulting in an 81% overall average for the year.”” If this sounds messy and dysfunctional to you, you’re not alone; Bick reports that at a meeting, monitoring team member Ron Ward said that the City’s accountability system “is not functioning at the optimum level that it was hoped or that we aspire to, collectively.”
  • The City Council passed legislation about the police accountability system that makes changes relating to investigations of complaints made against the Chief of Police. You can read more about it here and here.
  • Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meets tomorrow morning, where among other things, they will be discussing gun violence and the mid-year accountability reports from the OPA, OIG, and CPC.
  • Mayor Harrell announced spending around another $1m for hiring incentives for cops.
  • The OPA made yet another shady ruling:

    DivestSPDDivestSPD

    @DivestSPD

    Ofc. Joel Nark claimed overtime for two days he was supposed to be on suspension, but OPA didn’t sustain findings, blaming “systemic gaps in SPD policies”

    Nark was previously suspended (but not fired) for fraudulently claiming overtime. (THREAD) https://t.co/ogn9SvR9Pu

    1:04 AM – 20 Jul 2022

 

Recent Headlines

The Three Functions of Copaganda - by Alec Karakatsanis

U.S. Media Helping Corporate America Union Bust, Repeal Criminal Reforms, by Mindlessly Citing ‘Crime’ as Excuse for Closures

Relocating gang members, securing parking lots: Seattle violence prevention groups get creative | The Seattle Times

New report: Crime fell in Washington last year, but violent offenses rose - Axios Seattle

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced a plan to hire 500 more police officers.

New OPA Director Named; the SCC Continues to Push for Alternative Response Pilot Read More »

A Revealing Lens into the WA State Legislature

WA State News

 

There are two big pieces of news related to the state legislature this week.
First, Kirsten Harris-Talley wrote a revealing op-ed that ran in the South Seattle Emerald about why she’s choosing not to run again for her representative seat. In particular, she writes about what happened with the rollback police accountability legislation HB 2037 and SB 5919 during this year’s session. She relates how she was strongly discouraged by party leadership from proposing two amendments to 2037, thus at least allowing a conversation to take place about issues with the bill and setting up for improvements to the bill to take place in the Senate; leadership told her if she did this, it would interfere with their plan to block 5919 from passing in the Senate.
Of course, it turned out 5919 passed in the Senate anyway, only to quickly pass in the House. The only reason it didn’t get passed into law was because the Senate held it up at the last minute. Not the House, who was purportedly only passing 2037 to prevent 5919.
As Harris-Talley writes, “it took us years to get a little bit of justice for police accountability, but they are willing to reverse it in less than a year of these laws being on the books.” This action caused great harm to impacted families, who had given so much of their time and energy and emotion in service to getting 1054 and 1310 passed last year and then defending them this year.
Second, the state Criminal Justice Training Commission voted that last year’s 5051 decertification bill could be applied to past misconduct by police officers, not just to misconduct committed after July 25, 2021 when the law took effect. It is interesting to note the commission recently added six new members to their number, with more members being from the community and fewer representing law enforcement. There is still an open question as to whether some use cases of this law could be found to be unconstitutional, but for now, current certification decisions can be made based on 5051 even when applicable events happened before July 2021.

Seattle News

Mayor Harrell announced a nationwide search for a new police chief and encouraged Interim Chief Diaz to apply. The mayor must choose three finalists for the position, and whoever he chooses must be approved by the City Council. We can probably also expect to see some kind of engagement with the public during this process. The popular wisdom at present is that this is Diaz’s position to lose.
Meanwhile, SPD’s former Chief Carmen Best just got hired by Microsoft as director of global security risk operations, which is especially interesting given the recent released text message audit, in which it was clear she had deleted some of her text messages and initially lied about doing so. Apparently this behavior was not enough to give Microsoft qualms about making this hiring decision.
The House Our Neighbors coalition recently announced their ballot initiative to create a new public development authority to build social housing. Initiative 135 would also create a process for public land to undergo a feasibility study before being sold to determine whether it could be used for social housing. The initiative will need to collect around 35,000 signatures (26,500 plus a buffer for invalid signatures) to make it on the ballot this November. You can check out ways to volunteer for this effort here.
Starting tomorrow, the bus stop at Third and Pine in downtown Seattle will be temporarily closed. How effective this move will be to “increase visibility [by Seattle police] into criminal activity … and to reduce areas of congregation,” as mayoral spokesperson Jamie Housen put it, is unclear, but we can expect to hear more about it in the future.

King County News

The King County Council is considering draft legislation that would give adults the right to consult with an attorney before being searched by officers from the Sheriff’s Office. The purpose of such a bill would be to help people understand their constitutional rights regarding such searches. Many people are not aware they are allowed to refuse a search or may be afraid to do so, so being able to consult with a public defender could help. It’s important to note, as Erica Barnett reports in Publicola: “The new requirement wouldn’t apply when police have a warrant; when police have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime; or when police have reason to believe delaying a search would result in a loss of evidence or harm to the public or police, among several other exemptions.”
Whether and when this draft legislation might move forward in the process is not yet clear.

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