Annual SPD public safety survey provides interesting insights, if you dig enough

Last month the Seattle Police Department’s annual public safety survey report was released. It is a timely reflection back on a tumultuous year for the community’s relationship with the police, as we approach the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police to be followed by months of violent clashes between protesters and SPD on the streets of Seattle and other cities. The 147-page report provides the results of a survey taken in October and November 2020 of over 11,000 Seattle residents. The results are detailed; the analysis is not. Let’s take a look …

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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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Black Brilliance Research Project wraps up with allegations, recriminations, but no city investigation

In the final days of the $3 million Black Brilliance Research Project, the wheels came off the wagon. King County Equity Now, the organization that fought for and spearheaded the project, found itself on the outside looking in, and despite making allegations that its fiscal sponsor had committed financial improprieties and contract violations, it was unable to convince the City Council to intervene before the clock ran out.  

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Black Brilliance Research final report delivered; attention turns to rolling out Participatory Budgeting

Last Friday the final report of the Black Brilliance Research Project was delivered to the Seattle City Council. As with the preliminary report delivered a few weeks ago (from which there are only a few substantive changes), it contains some interesting insights and has several shortcomings. It does, however, fill out more details in the project organizers’ recommendations for launching the next phase: a $30 million “participatory budgeting” program for the city.

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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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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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Black Brilliance Research Project effort fractures

Back in December SCC Insight reported on the dubious contractual structure underlying the Black Brilliance Research Project: how the Seattle City Council bent over backwards to avoid bidding out a $3 million contract and instead awarded it to King County Equity Now, using the nonprofit Freedom Project as a “fiscal agent”; the lack of detail in the contract as to how the money should be spent or what the deliverables would be; the challenges King County Equity Now would face in maintaining a rigorous standard for the research as it enrolled and trained hundreds of contributing researchers; and questions as …

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