What happens when a police force exhausts the resources it can deploy to handle a crisis situation such as a riot, a larger-than-expected mass action event, or a natural disaster? Most police departments use “mutual aid” agreements to call on neighboring police departments as needed to supplement their own resources. These agreements benefit small towns and large cities alike, not to mention special public-safety organizations such as the Port of Seattle Police. But they can also create issues when the two departments work under different policies. This has come up twice for the Seattle Police Department, and by extension the City Council, in the last three days.
The Council had its first briefing on the draft legislation on police accountability that is headed its way. Plus, this afternoon I had a chance to talk with Council member M. Lorena Gonzalez, who chairs the committee where the bill will be deliberated.
Today U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled on the draft legislation that the City of Seattle submitted in October for his review, which would create a new accountability structure over the Seattle Police Department. His concerns were few, and should be easily addressed.
Here are some quick hits from this morning’s weekly Council Briefing.
Council President Harrell noted that this week’s Education, Equity and Governance Committee will have a presentation from the FTC on combatting fraud in the African-American and Latino communities. Also, the Seattle Election and Ethics Commission will discuss their plan to roll out the Democracy Voucher Program.
Council member Sawant mentioned that there are openings on the Seattle City Light customer review panel; in particular they are looking for a residential customer and someone with strong environmental advocacy interests.
Sawant also said that at the next Energy and Environment Committee meeting on September 27th she plans to hold a vote on the proposed ordinance capping move-in fees for tenants.
Council member Gonzalez noted that she might schedule a special set of GESCNA committee meetings if Judge Robard gives his approval for police accountability legislation.
Council member Bagshaw’s Human Services and Public Health Committee will have special meetings this Thursday and next Tuesday as it works through legislation addressing unsanctioned homeless encampments. Meanwhile, the encampment task force created by her and Mayor Murray meets the next two Wednesday evenings at 6pm in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall.
Three City Council members have quietly launched a new offensive in the fight for police accountability: making it easier for people to sue the city for police misconduct.
Lots happening this morning. Let’s get to it.