Virtual Meeting Highlights:
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and vote on recommendations to the Governor. Task force members had previously voted in writing on various proposals and then had the opportunity to add proposed recommendations. At today’s meeting they voted on the recommendations that hadn’t previously been approved by a majority vote. The ultimate goal is to draft legislation to be considered in state legislature.
Recommendations and results of voting (bold = passed; unbold = failed)
Purpose of organization
Purpose of legislation (top recommendations)
Types of cases
Prioritization of cases [tabled until next meeting]
Additional topic: Distinction between authority to investigate any misconduct but mandate to investigate certain crimes
Virtual Meeting Highlights
It was hard to tell who was present because it was virtual. Everyone followed the rules around keeping themselves muted and seemed to use the hand raise feature in order to ask their questions. The chat box (when visible) seemed to be active, and the task force members were definitely asking questions of the presenters. I have no idea if all members of the task force were present; there was no roll call, and there are a lot of members of the task force (23 according to the website).
This was an extremely dense meeting, but also really interesting. I appreciated that the chat box was visible for the majority of the meeting (though I wasn’t really looking at it), but it was partially covering the chart they were looking at, and it would have been more helpful for me to see the chart in order to take notes/follow along.
The meeting lasted approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. There was no public input, beyond the fact that task force members are community members as well.
Summary of Discussion
Welcome and Review Ground Rules (LueRachelle Brim-Atkins, Facilitator)
Overview: Today’s Meeting (Sonja Hallum, Senior Policy Advisor, Governor’s Policy Office)
Presentation on Criminal Investigations and Prosecution
Presenting: John Allgire, Detective, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office; Eric Drever, Chief, Tukwila Police Department; & Eric Richey, Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney
Panel Presentation and Discussion of Legal Issues Related to Investigations and Prosecutorial Authority
Presenting: Elizabeth Thomas, K&L Gates Law Firm; Bart Freedman, K&L Gates Law Firm; Mike McKay, K&L Gates Law Firm; Yasmin Trudeau, Office of the Attorney General; John Hillman, Division Chief, Criminal Justice Division, Office of the Attorney General; Eric Richey, Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Closing Comments and Adjourn
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
Attendance was taken and the group reviewed ground rules for working together. There are 19 ground rules all having to do with working together, being respectful and considerate of each other.
Special guests today included State Senators and Representatives who gave presentations on bills in progress and then had Q&A.
Presentation by Senators Pedersen and Dhingra
Senator Jamie Pedersen and Senator Manka Dhingra discussed three draft bills that will cover the process and conditions under which decertification of police officers will occur when bills are passed. Bills will be presented in the next session starting in January. All three bills work together. The bills also cover peer intervention training, how violation of protocol is reported, how it empowers one to report and be accountable. There was discussion about prosecutors and officers needing a culture change.
The Governor wanted to know what will happen if an information request is not fully complied with and also if the bills will work retroactively. It was clarified that the penalty on a local police department for not complying with an info request is $10,000. Additionally, the bills will work retroactively.
Kimberly Mosolf wanted to confirm that anyone can bring an issue to the Commission - law enforcement folks as well as citizens. The answer was yes.
Livio De La Cruz liked all the bills and said they needed to keep the families affected in mind.
Waldo Waldron-Ramsey also wanted to confirm that the bills will work retroactively.
James Schrimpsher said it was important that there was consistency/standards throughout the State. Also that the term limits on commissioners should be reviewed. Currently they are 6 years but maybe it should be 2 or 3. Also he said there was an elected sheriffs loophole that the Senators should look at. He said there tends to be an urban/rural divide and that Senators could look at what the State of Oregon is doing.
Puao Savusa wanted to know if the bills applied to officer conduct when they were off duty.
Monisha Harrell gave an example of how an officer can/did intimidate citizens that brought a complaint against him. Also wanted to confirm that the bills applied to officer conduct while off duty. It was explained that every officer in the State who must be certified to work will be covered under these bills.
Drafts of the bills were distributed and all were asked to review and provide feedback.
Discussion lasted one hour. Comments in chat box were to be forwarded to Senators. The group took a ten-minute break.
Presentation by Reps. Entenman, Goodman, Johnson, Lekanoff, Lovick, Ramos, and Thai
Representatives Entenman, Goodman, Johnson, Lekanoff, Lovick, Ramos and Thai were introduced. They too discussed policing bills they were working on, which are being drafted and should be available for review in December. They then opened it up for Q&A.
Chris Jordan said that we needed to focus on the demilitarization of the police force (equipment, training, de-escalation tactics, etc). Look at hiring from schools as a career path, not just ex-military.
Sanetta Hunter said that they should make sure they get community input. They are meeting/have met with police unions, youth groups, scholars, WA for Black Lives, and met with community advocates - but not individual citizens.
Jim Bloss wanted to know when the bills will be ready and was told in December.
The Governor wanted to know about tear gas. He was told they are no longer using tear gas and that this was one of the many banned substances in the new bills. What they do use is pepper spray.
Waldo Waldron-Ramsey said it can be difficult for prosecutors to bring charges against the police.
Puao Savusa wanted limited use of force covered, giving alternatives for situations.
Livio De La Cruz said there was a need for folks to change culture.
Teresa Taylor said that funding for trainers is an issue. Also officer support for PTSD, etc.
Jordan Chaney said you need to consider the affected family and address the psychological aspect. Need to communicate to victim’s family, possibly provide compensation fund for grief counselling. Need to center the community in these situations.
Procedural justice approach. Treat a person like a human being. Honor their dignity.
This section of the meeting ended at 4:25pm.
The last part of the meeting focused on how they were going to manage the last three meetings scheduled. The staff wanted to know how they can help the Task Force tackle the recommendation phase. The subject for the next meeting is Legal Issues and Prosecution issues. The last two meetings will focus on recommendations to be developed by the Task Force. These meetings are to last 4 hours each. The staff shared a draft structure - a worksheet that the Task Force could use to organize ideas, provide input and then structure their discussions from. The staff wanted to know if this worksheet could be helpful and used for these last two meetings. The Task Force voted to review the worksheet and use it as a guide for discussion.
The meeting ran until a little after 5pm.
The Task Force consists of 24 members, but I don’t believe all were there. Attendance was not taken or was not taken during the TVW viewing time.
The meeting was very organized. From viewing the minutes of previous meetings all nine meetings have been planned with agendas to cover a specific topic. Previous meetings focused on the current system and investigative systems in other places in and outside the USA.
Today’s meeting objective was to discuss what the jurisdiction and powers of the investigative body should be.
There were three guests speakers, some general Q&A for each speaker and then four breakout groups to address three questions. After the breakout groups they all got back together to share results.
Guest speakers: Todd Foglesong (Professor Univ. of Toronto); Nick Hardwick (Univ. of London) and Wanda Perez Maldonado (Formal Chief of Investigations, NY). Guest speakers each shared knowledge on what different investigative units jurisdiction and powers are. They vary in size and scope.
Break-out group questions
(Virtual) Meeting Highlights:
There were three presenters at this meeting: The first was Professor Todd Fogelsong, from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Toronto. The second was Nick Hardwick, who was one of the original members of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in England and Wales; and the third was Wanda Perez-Maldonado, former chief of the New York State investigative unit housed with the NY Attorney General’s office.
Facilitator Sonja Hallum, Senior Policy Advisor for the Gov., stated that today’s meeting is about “process”; the powers and jurisdiction of the state investigative unit.
Questions brought up by Professor Fogelsong: Whose participation matters? Can the Commission create charges? What is the time horizon?
According to Mr. Hardwick, England/Wales Independent Office has the broadest possible administrative and criminal mandates. He noted that in England, only 5% of the police are armed, as are few civilians.
Chris Jordan – How can we get to illegal stops? There are so many ways to create situations to target (profile) individuals, and then instigating and provoking conflict. How can we address the profiling and fabricating of offenses?
The question of jurisdiction: Commission needs to investigate what went wrong here; how a whole series of events can lead to a disastrous outcome – and how these missteps can be corrected. What was in the police officer’s mind at the time he shot? Anything a police officer could do, the investigators should have the same power.
According to Mr. Hardwick, the Commission in England/Wales was the hardest & most difficult job he ever had.
According to presenter Wanda Perez-Maldonado, the Special Investigative Unit set up in the NY Governor’s office was created after the Eric Garner case in July, 2015. Its scope was limited to cases when an unarmed civilian was killed by a police officer. The team is made up of attorneys, prosecutors, and investigators. At first the DA’s offices were distrustful of the NY Governor’s Investigative unit. As of April, 2021, the Special Investigations Unit will handle all cases where a death has occurred as a result of interaction with police or correction officers. It is important that there is transparency of reporting. We want to determine everything that happened from time of 911 call – what initiated that call? In terms of officers infringing on citizen’s rights, body cameras have been very helpful. Other surveillance cameras in the area are also helpful. Further down the chain, NY DA’s have Public Integrity offices, and police forces have “force investigation units” for the whole city. They are responsible for drafting administrative charges, and the AG’s office also makes recommendations.
James Schrimpsher, Algona P. Chief, VP of Wash State Fraternal Order of Police.
How can we change the culture?
Teri Rogers Kemp, attorney: Can the unit determine if it was an execution?
Wanda Perez-Maldonado: There’s always a concern about whether we take a statement from the officer.
Nick Hardwick: We have a conduct officer who has to get a statement from an officer within ONE hour. We go where the evidence leads us. You need to be seen not working for some other agency but acting independently.
Wanda Perez-Maldonado, in response to Waldo Wadron-Ramsey, NAACP Wash/Alaska: There needs to be more video cameras in correctional facilities. The good part of body-cams is that they have both video and audio. Cost is a factor in the prison systems right now.
Nick Hardwick, on UK – Corrections officers there do have body cams. And a majority of police and corrections officers like the body cams. In the UK, 20% of their investigators are retired police. There is an extensive training program, including implicit bias.
Question from Livio de la Cruz, board member, BLM Seattle: Do you cover instances of corruption? Nick H./Wanda P-M – These cases have big resource requirements. Wanda Perez-Maldonado's committee takes over from local D.A.s. General corruption of a police department is handled by the NY AG’s office.
Comment by Kim Mosolf, Disability Rights: Commission needs to listen to family members about the incidents.
The task force members move into break-out groups:
1st break-out discussion
What should the jurisdiction and scope of the investigation be and why?
Answer: Body needs to do the investigations, and refer back to the Department if it is administrative in nature.
Jim Schrimpsher, Algona: A majority of officers voluntarily come in and give an oral or written statement (95% of the time).
Livio de la Cruz: The scope should be as broad as possible. The ‘Brady reform” and its implications were discussed.
Nina Martinez: The scope should include domestic violence.
Livio de la Cruz: Corrections officers should be included.
Scope: Commission should be able to recommend RCW changes to the Legislature.
Puao Savusa, Seattle Office of Police Accountability: Findings are posted on our website.
The findings of the body should be forwarded to the relevant prosecutor. Whatcom prosecutor says the body should have the ability to arrest.
Duty of the police department involved:
2nd break-out discussion
Darrel Lowe, Chief, Redmond Police Dept.: We should be able to see all date, including prior disciplinary actions. This should be a full criminal investigation. The investigative body should have anti-racist training.
The body should start out with a scope that can be scalable over time.
Monica Alexander, advanced training manager of CJTC: We should focus on criminal investigations, all criminal acts involved in-custody deaths. Investigative group should have full powers.
3rd break-out discussion
Investigative group should start with criminal investigations, including all fatal shootings and serious body harm. Scope should start with felonies. Powers of the investigative team: Access to all records; be able to issue subpoenas; recommendations on charging. Should go to the prosecutor. Perhaps we should consider a regional response team under the AG’s office.
Question from Emma Catague, community police commission, Filipino Community Center, Seattle: How do you connect with community members?
Wanda Perez-Maldonado: Our team includes advocates and counselors.
Teri Rogers Kemp, Attorney: For the make-up of this body, we must acknowledge and address the issues of race, and check for any extremist views.
Waldo Waldron-Ramsey, NAACP – Members should have anti-racist training.
Nina Martinez to presenters: Have independent investigations reduced police violence?
Wanda Perez-Maldonado: “Legal justification” law in New York makes it difficult to prosecute. NY has a “crime victims assistance” manual.