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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Durkan, Mosqueda urge city employee retirement system to divest from fossil fuels

Yesterday both Mayor Durkan and City Councilmember Mosqueda sent letters to the Seattle City Employees Retirement System (aka SCERS) urging it to divest the pension fund from fossil-fuel investments. Three years ago when then-Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and former Mayor Mike McGinn tried the same thing, the request was met with sympathy but was still refused. This time it’s likely to get the same reply — but that doesn’t means that SCERS is ignoring climate change.

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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 …

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Philadelphia safe consumption site struck down by Court of Appeals

In late 2019, the movement to establish “safe consumption” sites in the United States — including in Seattle — got a rare win when a U.S. District Court judge in Philadelphia ruled that Safehouse, that city’s attempt at opening a safe consumption site, did not violate federal law. Today the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling in a 2-1 decision, bringing it into alignment with other federal circuit courts.

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