(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.
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