Officials and Guests in Attendance
10 of the 15 commissioners were present. The commissioners were prepared and attentive.
Accessing the Meeting and Materials
The meeting started on time and I observed the entire meeting. The agenda was available and the meeting was easily accessible.
Summary of Discussion
The agenda was followed. The meeting started at 9:00 am with a land acknowledgement, followed by attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to review and vote on recommendations for how police contracts should be negotiated in Seattle. Three areas of focus are: 1. address reforms; 2. promote accountability; and 3. enable the City to move forward with alternatives. Nine recommendations were reviewed and voted on as follows (1 - 8 approved, 9 not approved):
1. Fully implement the reforms in the Accountability Law. These reforms would, among other things: create strong policies in areas often abused by police, such as secondary employment; empower civilian investigations into police misconduct by allowing for such things as civilianization of misconduct investigations and the OPA and OIG to exercise their subpoena powers; close many of the loopholes police officers use to avoid discipline, such as the 180-day time limit on investigations and heightened burden of proof currently in place for some types of misconduct; and fix Seattle's broken disciplinary appeals system by addressing the many flaws posed by the City's current arbitration system, such as lack of transparency and backlogs created by the lack of clear timelines. Unanimously approved.
2. The Labor Relations Policy Committee must make public the City's bargaining priorities. 9 in favor and 1 abstained.
3. The City should publicly identify who is at the negotiating table for the CBAs, who those parties represent, and their role in the negotiating process. Unanimously approved.
4. The City should announce and release regular updates on the process of the CBA negotiations. Unanimously approved.
5. The City must commit to releasing all information that can be made public on the negotiation process at the conclusion of the process, but prior to City Council approval. Unanimously approved.
6. The City should publicly state, explain, and justify to the community what it gave up in the negotiation process. 8 in favor, 2 abstained.
7. Remove clauses from the contracts that allow CBAs to take precedence over local law. 7 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstained.
8. Remove limits on civilianization of the Office Police Accountability and ensure that civilian investigators have the same investigatory powers as their sworn counterparts. 9 in favor and 1 opposed.
9. When the Department needs to layoff offices, it should be allowed to conduct the process in a safe and effective manner, such as out of order layoffs. 4 in favor, 4 opposed, and 2 obstained. This recommendation did not pass.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30am.
Officials and Guests in Attendance:
In attendance were the commission co-chairs LaRond Baker and Erin Goodman, and Reverend Harriett Walden, Prachi Dave, Suzette Dickerson, Douglas Wagner, Mark Mullins. Staff Brandy Grant,, and Luiza Montesanti. Guest speakers Chief Diaz, DOJ Monitor Antonio Oftelie and Deputy Monitor Monisha Harrell. Other might have been present, but since I was late, I missed the roll call. Of note, the zoom set up of the meetings has changed and it is impossible to see how many people are there or who is there unless they speak, since it appears that the zoom is set on "speaker's view".
The government officials were prepared, attentive, and courteous.
Accessing the Meeting and Materials:
The meeting started on time. I missed the first 7 minutes, therefore I missed the roll call. The zoom format has changed and it's impossible to see who is at the meeting. The zoom view remains on speaker.
The agenda was posted on the CPC website prior to the meeting. The meeting was easily accessible. The zoom format was better before.
Summary of Discussion
The meeting followed the agenda.
10 people signed up to comment. After 3 or 4 people spoke for 2 minutes, comments were restricted to 1 minute given time allotted in agenda. Common themes included: need for independent oversight of the police, need for new and effective oversight by a full civilian board with subpoena and disciplinary power. Noted that CPC had no accountability power in the consent decree, several references to the town hall held by the CPC to get public/community input. Almost everyone who commented noted that only 3 commissioners were present. One person pointed out that this was the first time the CPC had held a town hall in 6 years.
Other people had submitted written comments that would be made available to the CPC members. Santillian asked if those could be read. Goodman said that the new by-laws state that people must be present to provide public comment and to change that, the procedure for changing by-laws would have to be reopened.
Office of the Inspector General (OIG) update: Anthony Finnell representing the OIG. He stated that they are meeting regularly with the OPA and FIT (?) working on the sentinel event review of SPD’s actions during the protests.
Office of Police Accountability (OPA) update: No report.
City Council update: Newell Aldrich, Legislative staff for Councilmember Herbold, mentioned that on 2/9, Councilmember Herbold and council staff sent a draft bill on use of force to US District Court Judge James Robart for his OK before the council takes a vote to make it a law. Also, on 3/9 Council will consider recent proposed appointments to the CPC.
Mayor’s Office update: Austin Miller present. He mentioned the Mayor’s office was starting to delve into collective bargaining agreement with SPOG.
DOJ Update: Brittany Cirineo was present (monitor reports later in presentation).
Discussion with Chief Diaz:
CPC is interested in learning more about what SPD is doing to root out extremism and support officers of color. Chief Diaz addressed those areas. He noted that OPA has accelerated their investigations into the officers’ actions who were in DC during the riot at the Capitol. He said that SPD has been open and transparent about the investigation into officers they have come forward. He noted that if any of the officers entered the Capitol they will be terminated – but he cannot terminate people for being in DC. Chief Diaz also said that racism, sexism, and hate have no place in SPD, and they intend to hold themselves accountable. He said that he has made 5 terminations due to racist comments. He has also ordered a comprehensive review to detect racism in recruitment, hiring, and ongoing throughout SPD employees’ careers. HR is implementing a validated bias assessment which tracks racism in and will be part of annual assessment. So, interview panels must be diverse and have implicit by his training. He is also looking at ways to inoculate officers from the harm that comes from persistent exposure to traumatic events. He wants to take a comprehensive approach to investing in people's wellness.
Douglas Wagner pointed out that even attending the rally is concerning since it was a rally with the intention to overturn the election. He asked Chief Diaz what he thought of that and whether officers could be disciplined for being involved in a political environment? Chief Diaz said he thought it was a horrible idea for them to go to DC, but he must discipline according to people's actions.
Baker asked if SPD felt confident that there were not more than six officers in DC? Diaz said he would love to feel 100% confident. He said he is in communication with the local FBI and if they ID anyone who has not self-reported, they will be terminated, even if they say they were just there at the rally. Diaz is still investigating. OPA is perusing social media and if they find associations with hate groups and militia, SPD officers and employees would be terminated. Diaz noted that he had recently terminated someone for whom HR had only recommend suspension for eight days based on racist comments.
Alina Santillan asked about protection for officers of color and gave an example of officers wearing MAGA hats. Diaz said that he sees MAGA hats as representing hate, and hate has no place in SPD. One officer came forward to report what someone had said and because that officer came forward someone was terminated. He wants to instill a culture free of hate.
Diaz addressed the issue of recent shootings and said they already have the video and are studying it. in closing Goodman stated that she hoped that the CPC will continue to have discussion with Chief Diaz around these topics.
Co-Chair/Executive Director Updates:
Brandie Grant (Executive Director of the CPC) thanked participants of public comment. Re-introduced the recommendation tracker which is getting closer to implementation. Tracker will be on the CPC website. She noted that she wanted feedback from the public and from accountability partners and that there would soon be a formal process for that. She introduced Louiza Montesanti for a presentation.
Montesanti showed the tracker, noting that the data is updated continuously, that there will be graphs, access to CPC documents including reports, letters, and lots of ways to sort and search. The tracker serves a legislative purpose inherent in the consent decree.
Baker (co-chair) noted that the CPC will have a special meeting on 2/17 which will include a synthetization of community input and a vote on CPC recommendations.
Baker also introduced two new CPC commissioner candidates, Erica Newman and Austin Fields that were selected by the CPC recruitment committee. The new recruits will to the SCC for confirmation on March 9, 2021 and expect to be in place by the end of March. Baker also noted that they now have a pool of qualified candidates to choose from when they have vacancies.
DOJ Monitor update: (Note: the conversation was complex, and it was difficult to get all the information - I gave it my best effort – recordings of these meetings are not available)
Antonio Oftelie reported that he and his colleagues had spent the last three months talking with the community and for organizations concerned with accountability to determine and develop a plan relative to the consent decree. He noted major areas of focus and said that each of these areas would be looked at from a bias standpoint after systematically gathering and analyzing data.
Accountability – what happens if an officer does something wrong? Look at front-end prevention and back-end accountability. Shore up resources for OIG and OPA. Also, legislation at the state level will force changes, and he wants to work with the CPC to get even deeper into the community. Look at innovation and respond faster to the needs of the community. Equity - SPD policing must be constitutional. Re-imagining policing - primary work and any major changes must be aligned with the consent decree. Goal is that by the end of 2021 the DOJ monitor group will provide an evidence-based plan on where SPD needs to go next. They will make that decision at the end of the year.
Monisha Harrell, Deputy Monitor, also reported. She noted that lots of things needed to be shored up and policy is one of them. She said their goal is to set up a system that does not need a consent decree. That would mean there must be strong communication and input and a process for continuous learning.
The monitoring team wants to ensure that the CPC is a strong leg of the accountability stool there should be technical assistance and communication with the community and insurance that other partners take the CPC's role seriously.
Reverend Walden asked if there was a plan/ methodology to fix the system. Harrell said yes in phase two of the plan. They will look at compliance, use of force and supervision and accountability. The monitor can provide technical assistance in guidance and can make recommendations and the judge can make rulings that SPD is out of compliance.
Prachi Dave asked Harrell what technical assistance monitor could give the CPC. Harrell said that they need to look at what they can do to ensure all partners have open communication with each other. It is important to open lines of communication among all the organizations and eliminate silos. Harrell would like to see the CPC participate in more development of policy rather than reacting to issues as they arise. She noted that the monitors are available to help the CPC and that this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue.
Lastly, Officer Mark Mullins, brought up a concern he had regarding the Wellness unit. He thought that maybe Black officers do not feel comfortable being open to the Wellness team. Harrell said she will dig into that and report back.
Officials and Guests in Attendance
The Commissioners were all in attendance: Rev. Aaron Williams, LaRond Baker, Douglas Wagoner, Prachi Dave, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Rev. Harriet Walden, Joseph Saia, Suzette Dickerson, Mark Mullins, Esther Lucero, Alina Santillan.
The officials who attended were the recruiters: Pam Inch and Greg Nelson and the candidates for Executive Director of the CPC: Brandy Grant, Edward Harness and Eddie Aubrey.
The government officials were prepared, attentive and courteous,
Accessing the Meeting and Materials
The meeting started on time and I attended the whole meeting. The agenda was presented in the Zoom information.
Summary of Discussion
The agenda was followed.
The purpose of the meeting was to select the new Executive Director of the CPC. Prior to the meeting, there was an interview of all the finalists conducted by the recruiter Greg Nelson on Zoom for the Community to hear all of the final candidates on Monday evening.
The meeting opened with public comment. Only one person took the two minutes allowed for each person to talk. It was Dr. Howard Gale, who criticized the Seattle Oversight organizations for the lack of action against officers who were involved in fatal incidents. He mentioned the number of police killings and the fact that no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the officers involved. He also stated that the CPC has been lax in reaching out to the members of the community who have been directly affected.
Discussion of Candidates
The meeting then moved to the recruiters discussing what the Commissioners should be evaluating in their assessment of the candidates. Pam Inch detailed the way that the finalists had been selected and asked the Commissioners to measure how the finalists would connect the CPC to the Community, would they be a collaborative leader, their abilities in verbal communication, their ability to participate in uncomfortable conversations, recognition of the impact of racism, and their estimated credibility in the Community.
She reported the public comments that were submitted through a survey after the Open Public Meeting on Monday: Brandy Grant got a lot of positive Community feedback; Harness and Aubrey were noted for having a great deal of experience in the field, but people were suspicious of the fact that both had earlier been police officers.
She then urged the Commissioners to recognize their own biases, to think about what filters they have of outside candidates. In Seattle we support Merit-Based Hiring. We have to apply the same standards to every candidate for the job. She alluded to gender bias, police background versus no police background, insider in Seattle versus outsider.
Greg Nelson then asked for Commissioners to volunteer to ask questions that had been prepared.
The candidates were interviewed separately in the following order: Brandy Grant,
Edward Harness, and Eddie Aubrey. Each outlined their experience and everyone had a great deal of experience in public advocacy. Brandy Grant emphasized her connection to the Seattle community, having worked here for the past seven years in areas involving the homeless population. She has spent twenty years in non-profit organizations, and has a MA degree. For the last six months, she has been the interim Executive Director of the CPC. She outlined her top priorities, emphasizing the necessity for more Community engagement, getting more of them at the table. She also discussed working to hold the police more accountable for their actions, and being proactive in trying to solve the problems with them. And she also talked about the necessity of dismantling racism. She said that people want to be safe, respected and heard. When asked about her experience with budgets, she said that had that in her resume.
Edward Harness was next. He discussed his past experience as a volunteer Police Commissioner in a small town and now his years as part of the Police Oversight Commision of Albuquerque. He is also a lawyer and started out as a police officer. His top priority would be to establish the CPC’s credibility in the Community. He noted that they had been constrained by a tight timeline for their public statement regarding recommendations for Use of Force by the Police by the City Council and thought that was inappropriate and should have been pushed back against. He also noted the disrespect by the police hierarchy when a member was scheduled to appear to answer questions and failed to appear at the follow-up meeting. The excuse given was that somehow it was unconstitutional to answer further questions at that time. He felt that was also unacceptable. He detailed an example of the need to look at incidents of use of force with an open mind because the problem interfering with justice could come from any quarter. His example was how an agreement to postpone a final judgment by a lawyer for the Police Accountability organization allowed an officer to retire before being disciplined. He discussed his interracial background as well. He appealed to the CPC to look beyond internal candidates.
The final candidate was Eddie Aubrey, a former police officer, a lawyer, and Executive Director of the Police Accountability Board of Fresno. He identifies as bi-racial as an African American with Korean heritage. His top priority was also to get more community engagement and involvement in the CPC. He emphasized the need for social media to create “stickiness’ in social media, so that people continue to come back to the site for more engagement in police/community issues. What needs to change in the police is implicit bias that officers may be unaware of. The police department needs to change this from the inside of their department and he’s had the experience in police leadership and bargaining agreements to help bring this about. He talked about his success in the first year of his leading his current organization and the fact that confidence in the police had soared. Leadership/legitimacy/ results. His vision and his working on all the areas of the problem were his strong points, as well as likability which leads to strong leadership. And he said you need to be likable to all the stakeholders. He has pertinent experience in California as well as Seattle, where he had been part of the City Attorney’s office and Tacoma Community College.
At 10:22, the public was excluded as the Commissioners went into executive session to discuss the qualifications of all the candidates.
At 11:05 they resumed in public to take a vote: All the Commissioners voted to appoint Brandy Grant to the Position of Executive Director, with two abstentions: Rev, Harriet Walden and Suzette Dickerson. The meeting adjourned at 11:10.
Officials and Guests in Attendance
Part of the commission, the public and three candidates for the Executive Director position. All were prepared and courteous.
Accessing the Meeting and Materials
The meeting was accessible and started on time. I attended the whole meeting. No agenda was provided, just an explanation of the purpose of the meeting.
Summary of Discussion
The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for the public to meet and ask questions to the three candidates for the Executive Director position of the CPC. The meeting opened with a quick introduction of the committee members present followed by a land acknowledgement. A search firm was engaged for the position and a nationwide search took place over a three month period. G. Nelson from the firm moderated the Q&A period. Each candidate was interviewed separately for about 30 minutes.
Each candidate introduced themselves. Then they answered two prepared questions and then answered questions from the public. Approximately four questions from the public were asked of each candidate. One candidate is from Arizona (E. Harness), one from Washington and California (E. Aubrey), and the other is from Oklahoma and Seattle (B. Grant) acting as interim Executive Director.
E. Aubrey was interviewed first. He presented himself as a high energy individual with years of experience as a police officer, prosecuting attorney, judge pro-temp and police auditor. He felt he had very good leadership and communication skills and that when all parties have respect for each other much can get done.
B. Grant is the acting Executive Director. She comes from a non-profit background and has much community mental health experience. She spoke in a very positive, matter of fact way and said we needed to pursue the uncomfortable conversations. They needed to happen. Transparency was key. It is necessary to be more present in the community.
E. Harris was interviewed last. He has a very calming, quiet presence and said this demeanor aids him in being a very effective leader. He said key to his success would be strong engagement with all community groups.
A link was shared where the public could add comments after the meeting about any and/or all the candidates. The link would remain up to the following day to provide ample time for thoughtful comments.
There will be a meeting of the CPC on Wednesday Feb 3 at 9:00 am where the Committee will interview the candidates further and the public can join in for further review and comment.
The meeting lasted approximately 2 hours from 5:30 - 7:30pm.