State legislature takes a big swing at police reform

There are several bills working their way through the Washington State Senate right now that aim to make some serious reforms to policing in the state. Two of them are drawing much attention, including from Seattle officials who testified at a hearing on the bills last week. While both bills recognize that many of the issues can be traced back to the collective bargaining agreements negotiated with unions of law enforcement officers, one of the bills focuses on a modest reform to the arbitration system for appealing disciplinary measures while the other “swings for the fence” on an ambitious list …

Continue reading

Council starts a rewrite of its ban on crowd-control weapons

You may recall that last June the City Council rushed through a near-total ban on SPD’s use of several so-called “less lethal” weapons, including pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and blast balls after several nights of confrontations between protesters and police officers. Several weeks later, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree imposed upon SPD, tossed the Council’s ordinance, for two reasons: because it did not follow the process prescribed in the Consent Decree for modifications to SPD’s use-of-force and crowd-control policies; and because in his view it reduced public safety by removing SPD …

Continue reading

SPD quietly circulating proposed changes to use-of-force and crowd-control policies

Earlier this month, the Seattle Police Department started circulating for review a set of proposed changes to its policies for officers’ use of force and crowd control. It sent the drafts to the city’s three police accountability organizations — the CPC, OPA, and OIG — as well as to the Department of Justice and the court-appointed police monitor, asking for feedback by January 8th. But miscommunications between SPD and the CPC over the feedback process have thrown a wrench into the works and are raising the tensions in a perpetually strained relationship.  

Continue reading

Black Lives Matter proposes sanctions for SPD’s violation of crowd-control weapons injunction

This afternoon, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the ACLU submitted to the U.S. District Court their proposal for sanctions that should be imposed on the City of Seattle, following a court ruling earlier this week that the Seattle Police Department had violated an injunction restricting its use of “less lethal” crowd-control weapons.

Continue reading

Catching up with the Mayor’s task force and the Black Brilliance research project

As you may recall, over the past few months two parallel efforts were created to guide multi-million dollar investments in community safety: the Mayor’s Equitable Communities Initiative (ECI) task force to guide $30 million of investments; and King County Equity Now’s “Black Brilliance” research project, commissioned by the City Council, to identify priorities for community investments and make recommendations for a participatory budgeting process to allocate another $30 million of investments. There have been some recent developments, so it’s time to check in on both efforts. (I also encourage you to read PubliCola’s recent coverage of the Black Brilliance research …

Continue reading