Let’s catch up on recent news, shall we?
First off, the OPA, OIG, and CPC released their recommendations on the use of less lethal weapons on Friday, in response to the Council’s legislation passed earlier this summer banning all of these weapons outright. It is important to understand that each body released its own recommendations, and that these recommendations don’t always agree with one another. Kevin Scholfield does an excellent rundown of these three different recommendations. All three groups agree that at least some less lethal weapons should be authorized for non-crowd control uses, for example, for hostage situations, and all three call for revisions to the crowd control and use-of-force policies of the SPD.
It’s possible the City Council will try to pass a different bill about less lethal weapons in September taking these recommendations more into account. It also seems likely Judge Robart won’t allow the consent decree to end until the SPD shows it has succeeded in instituting new crowd control and use-of-force policies. In the meantime, the DOJ must decide by August 27 whether to ask for a preliminary injunction against the original ordinance on less lethal weapons passed this summer.
In addition, CM Lisa Herbold announced this morning that the City Council has retained independent counsel apart from the City Attorney’s office to represent its interests related to this ordinance. This resolves a conflict of interest since the City Attorney was previously arguing both against this ordinance on behalf of the SPD and for this ordinance on behalf of the Council.
Today at the City Council meeting, the MiChance Dunlap-Gittens ordinance requiring that minors receive counsel before being questioned by police officers passed unanimously. The Council also passed a resolution expressing their support for The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120), a national bill that was passed in the House but has become stalled in the Senate that addresses qualified immunity for police officers, among other things.
Meanwhile, Mayor Durkan has appealed the decision to allow the recall effort to move forward.
The City Council breaks for summer recess for two weeks beginning next week on August 24. They reconvene for a full Council meeting on Tuesday, September 8, the day after Labor Day. The 2021 budget process will begin a few weeks later and will extend into November; the new budget must be adopted by December 2 at the very latest.
In the meantime, I have a few pieces I hope to work on, including one taking a closer look at the CAHOOTS model of 911 response system, a possibility about which I think the community will be taking a great interest this fall.