by Luna Reyna
Washington State is grappling with police violence and accountability issues. Over the past year, we have witnessed citizens’ frustration spill into the streets, many demanding to defund the police entirely. Meanwhile, more than $24 million in cannabis taxes are going to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) whose Liquor Enforcement Officers (LEO) are issued uniforms with police patches and jackets with “POLICE” plastered in front and back despite not having adequate training or the authority these things allude to. LCB vehicles have also been modified with the same red and blue strobe lights as typical police cars. Until a security risk management firm review in 2019, all agents carried a mandatory firearm. Another $5.6 million goes to an actual drug enforcement task force run by Washington State Patrol.
After Initiative 502 (I-502) passed in 2012, which made Washington the second state in the country to legalize recreational cannabis, it was largely celebrated. Many supporters had hopes that Washington’s recreational cannabis industry could be a template for other states that weren’t far behind. In the excitement to legalize cannabis, the existing regulatory body, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, was renamed the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) and tasked with the licensing and regulation of all marijuana production, processing, and sales. Within weeks, the newly appointed LCB leaders violated open public meetings law by meeting at least 17 times with local police and prevention groups privately.
This has colored the ways in which the LCB has operated since. Just a few months after I-502 was passed, the LCB attempted to classify LEO as a general authority Washington law enforcement agency through proposed legislation HB 1876, which would have amended current law to include a “peace officer or enforcement officer of the state liquor board” in the definitions of both “criminal justice personnel” and “law enforcement personnel.” The amended language would have changed what was largely intended to simply be a regulatory agency into an agency with the authority to arrest lawbreaking individuals, write search warrants, access criminal databases, or perform similar key functions in conducting criminal investigations like any other state police officer.
Continue reading OPINION: Liquor Cannabis Board Agents May be Operating Beyond Their Legal Authority
by Carolyn Bick
This is the first in a series of articles examining the pushback and internal pressure former Office of Law Enforcement (OLEO) director Deborah Jacobs appears to have faced during her tenure at OLEO. This pushback appears to have mainly stemmed from within the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the very law enforcement entity OLEO is tasked with overseeing, as well as the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), some of whose members belong to the KCSO. Multiple sources have alleged that certain members of the KCSO and the KCPOG mounted an internal campaign against Jacobs and said that the main goal of the campaign was Jacobs’ ouster. The King County Council decided not to renew Jacobs’ contract, after an independent investigation found that Jacobs had violated King County discrimination codes. Jacobs has since filed a tort claim against King County.
Sitting at the table with other King County officials, Deborah Jacobs watched then-Sheriff John Urquhart gesture towards his side as he answered questions in a private 2017 meeting at the Asian Counseling and Referral Services’ headquarters, just before a public one for the community at the same location, regarding Tommy Le’s death, only weeks after it happened. Urquhart was talking about where King County Sheriff’s Office then-Deputy Cesar Molina had shot Le.
It’s unclear whether Urquhart knew at that point that Molina had shot Le in the back. But Jacobs knew. And it was then, said Jacobs — the director of the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) at the time — she realized that she might very well lose her job: She said that she did not want to hide the fact that Molina had shot Le anywhere other than in the back but that she was bound by internal politics and policies that forbade her from speaking about the shooting in public.
Deborah Jacobs would eventually lose her job when, in 2020, the King County Council voted not to renew her contract. But while she served as OLEO director, she appears to have faced a years-long internal campaign against her by the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), whose ultimate goal was her ouster. Furthermore, Jacobs would also spend much of her tenure at OLEO caught in a contentious collective bargaining agreement negotiation with KCPOG and the KCSO that would prove to hinder her ability to do her job as she saw fit.
Continue reading ‘The Knives Come Out’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County
by Ashley Archibald
Professor Daudi Abe has written books. He defended his dissertation to get his Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington. He’s taught college classes at Seattle Central College since 2003 and given talks to crowds on the complicated intersections of race and culture.
But this time, he was nervous.
For nearly five hours on a cloudy Wednesday in April, Abe stood in a conference room in front of law enforcement officers and leaders of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and walked them through the course he had helped to write on the history of race and policing. Soon, it will be their job to lead recruits through the same information.
Continue reading Washington Law Enforcement Will Soon Be Required to Learn the History of Race and Policing, Will It Be Enough to Spark Change?
by Carolyn Bick
In an internal email sent to King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) employees last week, Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said that King County Executive Dow Constantine did not speak with her about his proposal to shift $4.6 million in marijuana tax revenue from the sheriff’s department to community-based programs.
Continue reading King County Sheriff’s Email to KCSO Employees Claims She Wasn’t Consulted About Shifting Marijuana Tax Revenue
By Paul Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on The C Is for Crank and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Tuesday, a majority of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Employment and Administration Committee (which includes all nine council members) voted not to extend the contract of Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) Director Deborah Jacobs, as well as to accept the findings of an independent investigation into allegations that Jacobs made a series of inappropriate or discriminatory comments to her staff over the course of her four years with the county.
Continue reading King County Council Committee Recommends Replacing Law Enforcement Oversight Director
by Carolyn Bick
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of Seattle is accusing Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers of violating a federal court order by using indiscriminate force against protestors and breaking the law by targeting NLG legal observers during the Capitol Hill protest on Saturday, July 25, according to a statement released by the NLG.
Continue reading National Lawyers Guild Accuses SPD of Targeting Legal Observers, Using Indiscriminate Force Against Protestors
by Carolyn Bick
The Emerald has discovered that two more Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers have registered non-residential addresses as their voting addresses, thereby apparently breaking voting laws. The discovery follows on the heels of the Emerald’s first article about six other SPD officers, including Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) President Michael Solan, registering SPD precincts as voting addresses.
Continue reading BREAKING: Two More SPD Officers Appear to Break Election Law by Using Non-Residential Address to Vote
by Carolyn Bick
A handful of Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers appear to have broken the law by registering to vote with their precinct addresses. Among them is Officer Michael Solan, President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).
Continue reading Some SPD Officers Appear to Have Violated Election Law by Registering Precincts as Voting Addresses
by Carolyn Bick
For 25 years, voters who live in King County’s 12 unincorporated areas that do not have their own police departments have seen their already-small power over who enforces the laws in their communities dwindle. Since the position of King County sheriff became an elected one in 1996, more and more people have moved to cities that have their own police departments. Today, just 11% of voters live in unincorporated King County.
But why do these numbers matter?
Continue reading The Position of King County Sheriff Could Become an Appointed One. Here’s Why That Matters.
by Carolyn Bick
When lawyer Courtney Hudak walked up to the King County Correctional Facility on Seattle’s 5th Avenue just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 31 to make a professional visit to protestors who had been detained, following Saturday’s protests against systemic racism and police brutality, the last thing she expected was for the doors to be locked. But they were.
Continue reading The Day After Saturday’s Protests, Lawyers Were Denied Access to Detained Protestors at King County’s Seattle Jail