by Carolyn Bick
Had the Seattle Police Department officer only punched the demonstrator twice, and for a slightly shorter period of time, the Office of Police Accountability said it may not have found that the officer violated policy when he and another officer — both of whom appear to have been wearing helmets — punched a demonstrator in the course of arresting him on the night of May 29.
This finding was included in one of the case closed summaries into five demonstration-related complaints against Seattle officers released on Oct. 23. In these findings, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) did not sustain allegations in three complaints and only partially sustained allegations in two complaints against Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers.
Continue reading If the Officer Had Punched Twice, He Would Likely Have Been Within Policy: OPA Releases New Complaint Findings
by Paul Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Friday morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office released a new report from the City’s Budget Office and the Seattle Police Department showing a record-breaking number of officer separations from SPD in September. In that month alone, 39 officers and officers in training left the department — double the number of officers leaving in the next-highest month on record. Without an end to the ongoing hiring freeze (a part of the City’s COVID-related austerity), SPD and the Budget Office project the department to continue hemorrhaging sworn staff well into 2021, potentially exceeding the staffing cuts proposed by the City Council during the summer.
The pending staff shortage places the department at risk of falling further out of compliance with the conditions of the Federal consent decree, increasing the likelihood that SPD will remain under the supervision of the Department of Justice for years to come. (Federal District Court Judge James Robart, responsible for overseeing Seattle’s consent decree for the Department of Justice, already ruled the City partially out of compliance in 2019).
Continue reading Seattle Police Department Announces Record-Breaking Attrition
by Alycia Ramirez
Looking back through the last five months of current events and daily protests in Seattle, one might think that the wheels have finally come off. However, the truth is that Seattle has a long and deep history of racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and protesting that goes back to the city’s founding.
Continue reading OPINION: Segregated Seattle — How Our Racist and Exclusionary Past Has Shaped Our Present
by Carolyn Bick
Joined by two other officers, Seattle Police Department (SPD) Interim Chief Adrian Diaz held a brief press conference on Oct. 7 about the new Community Response Group (CRG), which was announced in early September. However, several questions remain.
Continue reading SPD Outlines New Community Response Group Initiative, But Questions Remain
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
In findings for six demonstration-related cases released today, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) has determined that some allegations were sustained in just two of those cases against Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers. One of the cases in which allegations were not sustained was the case against an officer who allegedly pepper sprayed a young boy, because, according to the OPA’s findings, “the boy was not individually targeted.” It sustained two out of three allegations against an officer for placing his knee on a demonstrator’s neck and making unprofessional statements.
The summaries include findings for the officer who allegedly pepper sprayed a child; the officer who put his knee on a protestor’s neck and made unprofessional statements, and a fellow officer who allegedly made unprofessional statements; the allegation that an officer pushed over an elderly man in a show of excessive force; for the officer who was allegedly quoting the movie “Top Gun” when he was overheard saying that he has “a hard on for this shit, and, if they cross the line, I will hit them”; for officers who allegedly used excessive force against protestors and allegedly violated policy by not turning on their body worn cameras; and for an officer who allegedly made unprofessional comments over police radio.
Continue reading OPA Releases Findings for Six Demonstration-Related Cases: Does Not Sustain Allegations for Four and Sustains Some Allegations for Two
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 Paul Kiefer
(This article was originally published on The C Is for Crank and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
As part of the staffing transfers that Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced last Tuesday, the Seattle Police Department is in the process of moving 88 officers to patrol duties, with more transfers to follow. Those reductions include 29 Community Policing Team members, five members of the department’s Intelligence Unit (used to identify crime hot spots and to determine where patrol officers will be deployed), and five members of the department’s Domestic Violence Unit — nearly a quarter of that unit’s staff.
Continue reading Cuts to SPD’s Domestic Violence Unit Could Undermine DV Investigations, Experts Say
by Elizabeth Turnbull
As protesters across the city have pushed to defund the Seattle Police Department this summer, student activists and faculty at the University of Washington (UW) have been fighting an uphill battle to disarm and divest from the UW Police Department (UWPD).
Thus far, Ana Mari Cauce, the president of the university has pledged to make UWPD 20%smaller than it was last year, create a task force to decide what to do about the campus’ association with the former slave owner and United States president, George Washington, and to work on developing a team of non-police responders.
For the Coalition to Decriminalize UW, a group which encompasses 150 campus-based organizations including the campus Black Student Union, the African Students Association, and the UW Black Lives Matter chapter, as well as faculty, staff, and students of the UW, these efforts have fallen far short of their demands that the university reimagine campus safety.
Continue reading Coalition Working to Defund University of Washington Police Says Regents and President Have Fallen Short