WCPA

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

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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 »

WA Legislature Discusses Rollbacks to Last Year’s Public Safety Progress

WA State Legislature News

With the exception of HB 1756 regarding solitary confinement, most of the potentially helpful public safety bills are dead at this point in the session. Instead, advocates for more equitable public safety are having to fight against serious rollbacks to policy improvements won during last year’s session.
Perhaps most concerning of these is HB 2037, which would broaden the circumstances and lower the standards for when police can use force when someone flees the scene of a Terry stop. Among other things, this would likely increase police violence and racial profiling by police officers in Washington State. As the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability’s (WCPA) one-pager on this bill states:
Even under the standard that existed before HB 1310, there was too much police violence. Police got  away with harming people, and have killed people when they were not even committing a crime – when  they were in crisis, or when officers assumed criminality without evidence. HB 2037 would be a step  backwards from the prior standard. Thousands of people throughout Washington marched in the streets  to demand accountability in policing, not to give officers more leeway to harm people.
People Power Washington – Police Accountability is joining with WCPA to urge you to contact your representatives as soon as possible to urge them to reject HB 2037 unless it includes amendments approved by the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) that would protect vulnerable residents from police violence. You can find more details, scripts, and contact information for this action here.
Other bills currently still being discussed that would roll back hard-won progress in public safety are HB 1788 and SB 5919.

Seattle News

Journalist Erica C. Barnett shared another glaring breach of transparency during the Durkan administration yesterday. During a PDR request, she became aware of a “secret” seattle.gov email address former Mayor Durkan was using to conduct government-related business. Why this email address was never disclosed in the large amount of previous PDRs requested is an open and troubling question, and once again shows how deep a problem Seattle city government has with transparency to the public.
Last Friday Mayor Harrell held a press conference about public safety. He discussed the city’s “hot spot” strategy for reducing crime–nothing new for Seattle–and increasing the number of police officers in SPD. Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell spoke again about alternate safety responses, and it sounds like the new administration is in the middle of making plans for how these alternatives are going to be set up. Mayor Harrell also cited a specific book his public safety policy is influenced by: When Brute Force Fails, by Mark A.R. Kleiman. You can read more about the press conference here.
Also discussed was the increase of violence in Seattle last year, and especially of gun violence. This increase has been seen throughout the country over the past two years, in both blue and red areas and regardless of amount of police funding. This underscores the need for consistent and sufficient funding for community-based violence prevention programs in Seattle and King County; to learn more about what these programs can look like, you can read more in these recent articles here and here.
The CPC is continuing its community engagement meetings with consent decree Monitor Oftelie. The next one is tonight, 2/8, from 6-8pm. The subject is traffic stops, and you can find the full agenda and Zoom link here. While SPD has moved away from certain routine traffic stops such as stops for cracked windshields and expired tags, there is more progress that can be made in this area. You can find some suggestions for additional policy improvements in SB 5485, including halting stops for driving with a suspended license in the third degree, failure to dim lights, and failure to keep to the right.
In February of 2021, two officers fatally shot 44-year-old Derek Hayden, who was carrying a knife and threatening to kill himself. This continues a pattern of confrontations between SPD officers and people in crisis with knives that end in the death of the person in crisis. (You may remember, for example, the killing of Terry Caver by an SPD officer in 2020.) The two involved officers have been suspended for failing to de-escalate, but only for three days and one day respectively, even though, according to Paul Kiefer’s article in Publicola:
Both the officers’ supervisors and the OPA, however, determined that the officers made a series of disastrous assumptions and miscalculations that made the shooting almost inevitable.
The article went on to discuss the reaction of CM Lisa Herbold, the chair of Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee:
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold criticized both the OPA’s ruling and the relatively minor punishments for Butler and Jared on Wednesday, arguing that one or both decisions exposed a dangerous gap in the city’s police accountability system. “When an officer’s out-of-policy actions contribute to the circumstances leading to someone’s death, our accountability system must hold them accountable,” she said of Myerberg’s decision to not fault Butler and Jared for the shooting itself.
Myerberg, of course, has left the OPA and gone on to become the Director of Public Safety for the City of Seattle.

King County News

We have a new candidate in the race for King County prosecutor: Stephan Thomas, who plans to bring a full-scale restorative justice framework to his work in the prosecutor’s office, aided by his experience and relationships with local groups like CHOOSE 180 and Community Passageways. In his recent interview with the South Seattle Emerald, he describes a clear vision of building new processes and systems based on the work of such groups. As he says, “What does moving forward look like? It looks like investing in the things that right now are in their infancy. Things like Community Passageways, things like CHOOSE 180, things like treatment on demand, things like housing first. Those are the things that we know work.”

Recent Headlines

New Data Shows 61% Rise in U.S. Prison Deaths in 2020. Only One (1) Media Outlet Reported On It.

Opinion: Restorative justice can help America shed cycle of violence

Seattle’s new city attorney to expedite prosecution decisions, focus on misdemeanors, backlog | The Seattle Times

New WA police accountability laws likely to see change | Crosscut

WA Legislature Discusses Rollbacks to Last Year’s Public Safety Progress Read More »