SPD pushes back hard on Council’s proposed budget cut, declares “staffing crisis.”

“SPD is in a staffing crisis.” That is how Deputy Mayor Mike Fong kicked off a Council hearing this morning on a proposed $5.4 million cut to SPD’s 2021 budget. According to Fong, SPD has lost more than 200 officers over the past thirteen months, leaving patrol shortages in nearly every precinct and jeopardizing the city’s compliance with the 2012 Consent Decree. “We are not budgeted or staffed to sustain an acceptable level of community safety services in the city,” he stated, requesting that the City Council give careful consideration to SPD Chief Adrian Diaz’s plea to hold onto the …

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Comments from Deputy Mayor Washington on public safety in Seattle

Editor’s note: This morning in a Seattle City Council public safety committee meeting, Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington preceded two agenda items — a $12 million spending plan for community safety investments, and a $5.4 million cut to SPD’s budget — with some powerful and blunt comments that speak directly to the tensions in balancing the needs to improve community safety, reform SPD, address long-standing issues of racial equity, and continue to deliver essential services in the city.  I asked Washington for a copy of her remarks, in order that we may all reflect upon them — not necessarily to agree …

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Interview with OPA Director Myerberg in aftermath of Tuesday’s police shooting

Tuesday evening SPD officers shot and killed a man wielding a knife along the Seattle waterfront.  Last night SPD released officer bodycam footage of the shooting, which raises substantial questions about the officers’ actions and generally how SPD officers are trained to respond to an individual with a knife and to crisis situations.  Today I spoke at length with Andrew Myerberg, Director of the Office of Police Accountability, to explore those questions and related issues.

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The competing efforts to restrict SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons

As it stands right now, there are three separate efforts to write rules for how SPD may (or mostly may not) use so-called “less lethal” weapons for crowd control purposes. Since each of the efforts is complex on its own, and the relationship and interactions between them provide additional complications, it’s worth reviewing the whole set to understand where things currently stand and where they might go from here.

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Council sends revised crowd-control weapons ordinance to DOJ and police monitor for review

Today the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee polished off a draft of a revised ordinance placing restrictions on SPD’s use of so-called “less lethal” weapons for crowd control, and sent it off to the Department of Justice and the court-appointed police monitor for comments. In so doing, the Council is signaling that it still feels the need to legislate in this domain while it also recognizes that the terms of the 2012 Consent Decree constrain its ability to do so.

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Judge Robart shares “harsh words” for the City Council in consent decree hearing

A lot happened related to police reform and the Consent Decree today, with an extra large helping of political commentary from an unusual source. This morning, the court-appointed police monitor submitted a proposed work plan for 2021 that not only lays out his office’s work but also commits SPD and the triumvirate of police-accountability bodies to specific deliverables and deadlines throughout the year. Then early this afternoon the monitor, the DOJ, and the City of Seattle went in front of U.S. District Court Judge James Robart to explain the plan and express their consensus support for it.

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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 …

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