What’s going on with the summer investments in public safety? HSD is dragging its feet.

Lots going on during this last week of January!

First up, there will be a hearing for HB1202, a bill about ending qualified immunity at the state level, tomorrow, January 26, at 10am. You can learn more about it here. If you need help with a script, you can respond to this email and I’ll send you what I have.

There will be a hearing for HB1310, a bill mandating de-escalation by police, on Friday, January 29 at 10am. There should be scripts added to this website before Friday.

We had a long Council Briefing this morning, with presentations by both the national and state-level lobbying teams, about which there are many details in the following Twitter thread.

Robin from the state lobbying team said there are now over twenty bills regarding police reform making their way through the Senate or House. There is a bill on independent investigations that has a hearing tomorrow, as well as a bill about community oversight boards that they are watching with a bit of concern as it might impact our current OPA/OIG/CPC system in Seattle. There is no news yet about SB5055 vs SB5134 (regarding arbitration etc) as to whether these two bills might be reconciled or have amendments added to them.

Tomorrow morning at 9:30am there is a packed Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. Among other things, they will continue to discuss the bill about less lethal weapon use; hear presentations about some of the money allocated last summer for violence prevention programs and scaling up community organizations; hear updated numbers of SPD attrition for 2020; and go over the promised action of decreasing the SPD’s 2021 budget to compensate for the SPD going over their authorized budget in 2020. I will be attending and will try to write up a report about what is discussed at this meeting in the next few days.

In election news, Colleen Echohawk, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, has announced her candidacy for Seattle Mayor. She also served on the CPC in the past. You can read a comprehensive interview with her at the South Seattle Emerald. About policing in Seattle, she says:

We need a Seattle Police Department that protects and cares for the people in our city. So, there are a few changes that I would want to make changes in right away. I know this is already happening, but there would be no more sweeps of homeless camps by police officers. Yes, we need outreach and support, and we can take care of the garbage, but the sweeps are not effective. I want to be effective in our work. We also need to move some of the jobs like traffic control and mental health crisis support out of SPD and into the community.

We have to realize it’s going to take time. We’re not going to be able to wave a wand and make all this happen.

She speaks at further length about policing during the interview, as well as issues such as homelessness, public transit, and COVID recovery. My sense from the interview is that while she isn’t an opponent of current reform efforts, she’s walking carefully and mostly following in Mayor Durkan’s and the Council’s lead. I imagine we’ll get a better sense of where she stands on this and related issues as the campaign progresses.

Finally, you can read Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County’s most recent newsletter, which addresses both the recent tragic action in Tacoma with a police officer driving through a crowd and the demand that any officers participating in the insurrection in Washington DC on January 6 be immediately fired (as far as I know, we’re now up to five SPD officers who were in DC at the time of the insurrection, although their actions there are still being investigated).

Best wishes to those of you participating in ACLU Lobby Week, and thank you for your advocacy. I’ll be checking back in sometime later in the week to fill you in on what happens at the Public Safety meeting tomorrow.