by Carolyn Bick
In April of this year, the Emerald published a story about the Office of Police Accountability’s recent decision not to sustain the most serious allegations against the Seattle Police Department officer who, in August of last year, drove onto a crowded sidewalk.
In its April story, the Emerald noted a curious addition to the Case Closed Summary (CCS) of the incident, which it had not seen in previous summaries. In this particular CCS, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) stated that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had declined to certify the OPA’s investigation as objective or thorough. This meant that the OIG — which is part of Seattle’s police accountability structure, conducting Seattle Police Department (SPD) and OPA audits, overseeing the OPA, and working alongside SPD and others to create and update SPD’s policies and practices — had only partially certified the investigation. In its brief paragraph about this in the CCS, the OPA did not go into detail. It merely stated that the OIG’s points of objection were “didactic and immaterial” and declined to address them further.
The Emerald recently obtained the OIG’s certification memo for that case, as well as for eight other OPA investigations for incidents that occurred between April 2020 and May 2021, via a public disclosure request. The Emerald also obtained the OIG’s memo for OPA case 2020OPA-0583, which concerned the overall decision by SPD officers to confront protesters in front of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) headquarters in SoDo on Sept. 7, 2020. The Emerald published a story regarding that memo, which deemed the OPA’s investigative shortfalls so severe that they “cannot be remedied” with a new investigation.
Continue reading OIG Partial Certification Memos Raise More Concerns Over OPA Investigations
by Paul Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
A bill that would create a framework for civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies across Washington State is making its way toward a vote on the floor of the State House, but police accountability experts say that the bill needs refinement to avoid unintended consequences.
Continue reading State Proposal Creating Community Oversight Boards Could Have Unintended Consequences
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and whereweconverge.com.
We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.
Morning Update Show — Wednesday, Jan. 20
Biden & Harris Take Oath of Office | New Day in America? | A Look at Policing Legislation in Olympia | LIVE — Kevin Schofield | Mayor Durkan on the OIG’s Sentinel Event Review
Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 1/20/21
by Carolyn Bick
Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County has alleged in a press release that agents from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation are responsible for providing “disinformation to local officials during summer protests to obscure a federal role in stoking unrest.” The organization said this information comes directly from a Washington State lawmaker.
Continue reading BREAKING: FBI Agents May Have Intentionally Lied to Stoke Unrest in Summer Protests, BLMSKC Alleges
by Carolyn Bick
The Office of the Mayor and Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold have announced new legislation that is meant to clarify the Office of Police Accountability’s and the Office of Inspector General’s power to subpoena those involved in or who are witness to possible officer misconduct — including officers themselves.
The proposal clarifies legislation that was previously unclear due to language in both the City’s 2017 Accountability Ordinance and the 2018 Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract that appear to counter one another.
Continue reading Proposed Legislation Attempts to Clarify OPA’s, OIG’s Power to Subpoena in Police Misconduct Cases
by Carolyn Bick
Though they do not say it outright, both Inspector General Lisa Judge and Office of Police Accountability Director Andrew Myerberg have written a letter to federal oversight officials and Seattle’s Chief of Police that appears to acknowledge that the police department and the City may be out of compliance with the Consent Decree.
The Oct. 15 letter to United States Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, Federal Monitor Anthony Oftelie, and Seattle Police Department (SPD) Chief Adrian Diaz contains two recommendations for policy revision and follows about a month after the Emerald published a story in mid-September that outlined how the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the City might currently be out of compliance with the Consent Decree.
Continue reading OPA, OIG Heads Seem to Acknowledge SPD, City Out of Compliance With Consent Decree in Letter to Fed Oversight Officials
by Carolyn Bick
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has released an Executive Order meant to “create an accountable and transparent timeline to evaluate Seattle Police Department (SPD) functions and identify areas of SPD response that can be transitioned to civilian and community-based responses,” according to a press release from her office on Oct. 1. According to the order, the first public deliverable — a work plan and community engagement timeline — will be available in October, while the last one — a final analysis report that examines several factors, including current SPD practices and functions, as well as community input on community policing — will be available in March 2021.
Continue reading Durkan Releases Executive Order Outlining Methods To Begin Transitioning Areas of SPD to Civilian, Community Response
by Carolyn Bick
Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County (BLMSKC) has submitted a formal request to Seattle’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to “immediately, transparently, and aggressively” investigate the Seattle Police Department (SPD) over questions that the department “at worst” possibly engaged in “unlawful practices” and “at best” failed “to uphold governing officer conduct policies” over the past three months. The letter links the questions it raises to concerns regarding possible alleged coordination with the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and the Mayor’s Office.
Continue reading BREAKING: BLMSKC Calls on OIG To Investigate SPD Over Questions of Possible Unlawful Behavior, Coordination with OPA and Mayor’s Office
by Carolyn Bick, with additional reporting by Jessie McKenna
Seattle Gay News journalist Renee Raketty was sitting on a narrow set of metal steps and trying to catch her breath when the blast ball an officer allegedly threw beneath her exploded. Hours later, still surprised and disoriented, Raketty played the video over and over again, because she still couldn’t believe what had happened. But the permanent loss of hearing in her right ear is all too real.
In the course of reporting Raketty’s story, the Emerald has discovered that SPD appears to be out of compliance with the Consent Decree. An officer’s alleged actions caused Raketty to permanently lose her hearing, which is “a significant permanent loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ.” It would appear that an injury of this severity would be classified as a Type III use of force, according to the SPD manual, and the Consent Decree mandates that all Type III uses of force be reviewed by SPD’s Force Review Board (FRB). But according to officials with the OPA and SPD, this case will not be reviewed by the FRB, as there does not appear to be any mechanism in practice within existing policy with which to do so.
Continue reading Local Journalist Faces Complex Accountability Process That Appears to Show SPD Out of Compliance With Consent Decree
by Carolyn Bick
Ever since she found out the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) had paused the investigation into her complaint, Aisling Cooney has been trying to get an estimate of when the office might once again resume the investigation.
Though Seattle Police Department (SPD) Sgt. Aaron Keating, the investigating officer on Cooney’s case, finally answered her question just before 10 a.m. on Sept. 1, he said her investigation would not be resumed until April 2021, because one of the officers named in the complaint would not return from military service until then.
April 2021 is almost an entire year after the incident alleged in the complaint took place. The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) contract prohibits remote interviews of officers, but notably does not do so for civilian complainant interviews. It is unclear why this provision has not changed, particularly in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It also took Cooney making phone calls every day for more than a week and sending numerous emails. Nevertheless, during that time period. top officials at the OPA appear to have ignored her requests for such an estimate and officials at both the OPA and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) — the duties of which involve overseeing the OPA — seem to have skirted her questions as to why they won’t give her an answer. The OPA appears to have barred Cooney from speaking on the phone with the civilian investigator who had previously been working as the intermediary between Cooney and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer in charge of her case, as Cooney had declined to speak directly with an SPD officer.
Continue reading Top Officials at the OPA Appear to Ignore Complainant Asking for Basic Information About Her Own Case, Despite Apparent Lack of Legal Hurdles