by Ashley Archibald
The first time Brianna Auffray’s client went to the police about a potential arson, they took down a report, but they did not classify it as a hate crime — despite a derogatory note left near the damage. The second time a fire was set at the same family’s home, law enforcement acknowledged that there appeared to be a pattern of arson but still didn’t change the classification. The message from the police was “who’s to know what their motives were?” said Auffray, who is the legal and policy manager for the Council on American Islamic Relations Washington (CAIR-WA).
Continue reading Advocates Push for Systemic Change in Face of Rising Hate Crimes in Seattle
by Paul Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)
By next summer, Seattle’s emergency call dispatchers may have a new crisis response team at their disposal. The new unit, called Triage One, would be housed within the Seattle Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Health program and tasked with responding to some crisis calls that don’t clearly involve a medical emergency or criminal activity.
Continue reading Public Safety Agencies Announce Plan for New 911 Triage Team
by Paul Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)
The Washington State Supreme Court sided with the families of people killed by police officers in a unanimous decision Thursday, restoring reforms to King County’s inquest process that have stalled since 2018 under pressure from law enforcement agencies.
Continue reading In Victory for Families of People Killed by Police, Court Allows Inquest Reforms
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 originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
In findings released on Thursday afternoon, Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability ruled that two of the six officers who attended former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 violated department policy and federal law by trespassing on the grounds of the U.S. capitol while insurgents stormed the legislative chambers inside. The officers will now face Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who will decide how to discipline the pair for their breach of policy; their supervisors have recommended that Diaz fire both officers.
Continue reading Investigation Implicates 2 Officers in Jan. 6 Riots, Tests Limits of Subpoena Power
by Carolyn Bick
Author’s Note: For the purposes of clarity, the Emerald will use “(sic)” in parentheses in quoted sections of the OIG memo discussed in this article to indicate that it has been reprinted here exactly as it appears in the source material (the OIG memo). Where readers see “[sic]” styled as shown here, with square brackets, this text was used by the OIG in their memo to indicate that the text quoted in their memo appears exactly as it appears in the source material (the OPA Report of Investigation/ROI).
On the evening of Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, hundreds of protesters marched to the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild headquarters in SoDo. The march fell just after the 100th day of protests against police brutality held in the city since late May 2020, following the murder of George Floyd.
Once the protesters arrived at the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) headquarters, it didn’t take long for police on bicycles to confront the crowd. It’s unclear exactly what prompted the police to come outside, but the situation soon erupted, with officers deploying blast balls and pepper spray and arresting several protesters. Videos about the event online, including those in this Twitter thread from Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover and this Twitter thread by Stranger Associate Editor Rich Smith, show what appears to be a peaceful scene, before Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers on bicycles come around the corner to confront protesters. Based on these videos, it does not appear that any of the protesters instigated the confrontation, though a heavily edited official SPOG video, complete with background music, claims otherwise and says that police sprang into action after allegedly seeing a protestor carrying Molotov cocktails.
Continue reading OIG Memo Reveals Serious ‘Deficiencies’ in OPA Protest Investigation That ‘Cannot Be Remedied’
by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced the latest version of legislation intended to restrict the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) use of so-called “less-lethal weapons” against demonstrators during a Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 22, more than a year after the council first began its efforts to limit SPD’s crowd control arsenal. The proposal would restrict the use of tear gas, pepper-ball launchers, and pepper spray by SPD officers responding to protests and outright ban five other less-lethal weapons, including blast balls.
Continue reading Council Reviews New Version of ‘Less-Lethal’ Weapons Ban
by Carolyn Bick
The Office of Police Accountability has determined in a two-part investigative summary that at least eight Seattle police officers violated Seattle Police Department policy when they registered to vote using the addresses of different Seattle Police Department precincts. One of those officers was current Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan.
Continue reading OPA Finds That SPD Officers Violated Policy by Using Precincts as Voting Addresses
by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article was previously published on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council rejected a proposal to cut $2.83 million from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget, bringing an end to a months-long debate and raising questions about whether federal oversight is the right path toward reforming the department.
For almost a decade, SPD has been under federal oversight through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice called a consent decree. The consent decree, which Seattle entered in 2012, was supposed to ensure that SPD corrected a pattern of using unjustified force and racially biased policing, among other reforms.
Continue reading Can the Seattle Police Department Consent Decree Be Fixed?
by Mark Van Streefkerk
“Stonewall was a riot!” is a popular chant heard at Pride marches, and it’s not wrong. At the heart of Pride is a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, sparked when queer and transgender people took a stand against a police raid at New York’s Stonewall Inn. LBGTQ+ communities and activist groups have convened every summer since then in cities around the world for marches, rallies, and festivities that honor this historic resistance. In keeping with the origins of Pride — and especially given the violent and sometimes deadly confrontations between police and protesters during last year’s protests for Black lives — Capitol Hill Pride Fest (CHPF) organizers announced that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) will be banned from their events.
Continue reading Seattle Police Banned From Capitol Hill Pride Fest