Virtual Meeting Highlights:
There were 35 participants in the meeting - including commissioners and staff. No formal time for public comment, but one of the commissioners did response to a chat request. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc. An executive branch budget analyst presented on the mayor’s proposed 2021 budget for SPD. The presentation was clear and all were polite. The presenter accommodated all questions.
New DOJ Monitor Antonio Oftelie was present together with Monisha Harrell who has been appointed as Deputy Monitor. Oftelie expressed their commitment to working with the CPC.
Council will be holding budget meetings Oct. 15 through 21. Council members can bring forward items for discussion, so commissioners are encouraged to reach out and provide input as the councilmembers are deliberating.
CPC received a presentation on the Mayor’s proposed 2021 SPD’ budget from Kara Main-Hester, the budget analyst for SPD’s budget. Here are some highlights (also see Power Point file, below):
Governing Committee: Erin Goodman reported that committee that the City Attorney’s Office is reviewing the revised, proposed CPC by-laws. Committee still working on a Request for Proposals for a Strategic Plan for CPC. Also, a small group met with a search firm regarding an executive director search and they hope to report back on that next week.
Community Outreach: Commissioner said he will update the CPC soon. Next meeting is in 2 weeks.
Defund Workgroup: Esther Lucero, continued the process of collecting information from CPC members who did not provide input at the last meeting. Esther summarized recommendations gathered to date from the CPC.
Commissioners Responses - Summary of views/thoughts, continued…
Officer Mullins (SPD) revisited his question, re training for civilian investigators. Group responded with ideas:
Douglas Wagoner (Communications Lead at the Office of Health and Safe Communities in the Washington State Department of Health) raised an issue about ongoing strategy.
Rev. Williams: Main concern is that funding be directed toward mental health services and that police stick to policing.
In closing Esther Lucero said that the Defund Workgroup will flesh out recommendations and provide to everyone next week, and hopefully commissioners can then vote.
Legislative Committee: Committee is doing a deeper dive into what other priorities CPC can support in addition to those recommendations provided to OIR. Rec’s have been added to the CPC website.
Erin Goodman mentioned that there were several emergencies (shootings and car accidents) requiring a police response in the south end last weekend and that police were responding from all over Seattle. Officer Mullins noted that it is important as the CPC looks at defunding that the that attention is paid to the need for enough officers to guarantee an adequate response.
Reverend Williams asked about CPC membership and it was noted that there are currently 5 vacancies. People can apply online.
Agenda items for future meetings:
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, La Rond Baker, Prachi Dave, Scott Bachler, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Esther Lucero, Mark Mullens, Alina Santillan.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
They were all attentive and courteous to one another. After the usual land acknowledgment, attendance was taken and there was a quorum. The agenda for the meeting was accepted, and the minutes of the previous
meeting was as well.
There was no public input, although, once again, Commissioners were urged to contact at least one other member of their communities to gain their points of view.
We were told that several things are in process, but there was nothing currently to report.
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
- The DOJ had no updates but their representative asked the Commissioners to reach out to her if they wanted to.
- The Monitor had no report.
- A representative from CM Herbold’s Office noted that there would be a Budget Meeting this morning at 9:30 and a meeting on the SPD Budget tomorrow morning.
- A staff member from the Mayor’s Office reported that next week they hope to provide a deeper look at the Budget, and he noted that the Mayor was requesting $100,000,000 for BIPOC in the next Budget.
There were no co-chair updates.
Said that Bylaws would be presented on October 9th. The Executive Director search is ongoing with
Commissioners meeting with the search firm.
Community Engagement Committee
Reported that they were working on a few projects.
Defund Work Group
Esther Lucero led the discussion. She said they needed to move the discussion now to the broader Commission so we have the whole Commission behind their report. She stated that they have heard the DeCrim group, and the question is do we want to support their recommendations. They propose more civilian investigators on OPA, so their is a
question as to the salaries of these civilians. To show respect for them, they need to be treated like regular City Employees. We need to come up with our recommendations in the next two weeks.
Prachi Dave agreed with DeCrim, and thought there should be as much consensus on the Commission as possible as this would allow the CPC to help the broader community.
Erin Goodman felt that there were good ideas raised, but she was concerned about how their recommendations affect the entire community. Won’t there be unintended consequences? While some of their ideas sound good, we need to think about how they will affect the whole City. How to balance this Community’s needs with the entire City. How will Public Safety be affected in this large City?
Esther Lucero responded: Who will assume the risk for Public Safety as a whole? Can we tailor a response for all the communities? Since no one else was commenting, Esther started calling on Commissioners for comments.
Joseph Seia had no comment right now.
Rev. Walden had some of the same concerns as Erin, and she felt that the community people were not behind it. Crime is expanding in the Central District and that is of great concern to the community.
Alina Santillan said he agreed with Prachi, and that when he says “community” he thinks of those people who are most impacted by negative policing. He needed to think about this further.
Nick Christian mentioned that DeCrim had expanded their proposal.
Rev. Walden said that she would look at their recommendations. There is real crime and shootings during the daytime that has her very concerned. Who will assume responsibility for these problems in the interim?
Colleen Echohawk: Excited to talk about this. Rev. Walden regarding crime right now, the SPD is not doing us favors with crime. SPD was wonderful for us last week. We haven't found solutions downtown. Supportive of Decriminalize Seattle. Civilians should be on OPA to help their work. Gave an example of people being traumatized by being contacted by police during an OPA investigation.
Esther Lucero: We could promote pilot effotts for human trafficking, etc. Funding community leaders to lead investigative efforts.
Rev. Walden: We already have community people on the OPA. You want additional ones?
Commissioners responded yes, they wanted more and to explore new ways to investigate.
Douglas Wagoner: We need to usher this moment forward. Reducing use of force in mental health situations, referencing CM Lewis. We should align ourselves with Decriminalize Seattle.
Esther Lucero responded: 911 calls being diverted as appropriate to social workers. We need to make recommendations about budget but also on accountability.
La Rond Baker: We have an incredible opportunity to rethink policing or police accountability. There needs to be a change and how SPD interacts with the community, how low-income communities are treated through bad policing. We need to take strong stances to protect them. Other communities are already protected. We should support Decriminalize Seattle. Some issues may need to be revisited. Increasing crimes show the present system is not keeping us safe.
Suzette Dickerson: Agrees with Erin regarding safety elements we need to be cognizant of taking work away from some organizations or changing structures that are already there. Should we enhance those services with more community input instead of starting from scratch. Would like to continue this conversation next week.
Legislative Agenda Committee
La Rond Baker: Sent a letter to OIR. Need to determine what the top priorities will be that CPC submits to the legislature.
Next week's agenda to include more discussions on defunding, legislative agenda, report from Mayor's Office, and an update from OPA.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
There were 42+ participants in the meeting - including commissioners and staff. As far as the League Observer could tell only commissioners and staff spoke, and there was no formal time for public comment. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc.
DOJ, Monitor, City Council, Mayor Updates
DOJ: No update.
Monitor: No update
Council: Starting to address 2021 budget, having received the Mayor’s proposed budget on 9/29/20. SCC Budget Committee meeting at 9:30 AM on 9/30/20 and on 10/1/20 another SCC budget hearing will focus on the SPD budget.
Mayor’s Office: CPC will receive a presentation from the Mayor's Office on the budget at the 10/7/20 meeting. Mayor's Office representative noted there is an op-ed by Mayor Durkan regarding her $100 million plan for BIPOC Communities in the South Seattle Herald (9/25/20).
Governance Committee: Erin Goodman (SODO Business Improvement Area) reported that committee has worked with the City’s contract specialists and will be doing a Request for Proposal. Also a small group met with a search firm regarding an executive director for the CPC.
Community Outreach: Commissioner said he will update the CPC soon.
The Commissioner representative from the Defund Workgroup Esther Lucero (Seattle Indian Health Board) said that the work group was ready for input from the broader Commission and will be bringing specific recommendations, including those from Decriminalize Seattle (DS) to the committee for consideration. For instance, DS is recommending that more civilian investigators be added to the OPA and that their pay be commensurate with other city employees.
It was noted that the CPC needed an updated presentation from DS. Esther said the DS had refined their initial blueprint and that the CPC should revisit. The League Observer believed that staff for the CPC will be sending the updated DS recommendations so that people can be thinking about it.
Esther Lucero asked for peoples’ thoughts in general about supporting the recommendations from DS, or if the CPC should have their own recommendations for defunding. Since no one responded Esther called on people to share their views.
Prachi Dave (Senior Attorney at the Public Defender) supports DS and suggests that the commission try to develop a consensus around which of the recommendations the commission will support. She noted that DS represents the community.
Erin Goodman (SODO Business Improvement Area) stated that DS has raised important ideas but she is concerned about the lack of detail. She is OK moving forward on the themes, but not the detail and is concerned about unintended consequences and the about the delivery of public safety services for the whole community. She suggested the plan needs to address the public safety needs for a major American city.
Alina Santillan(Seattle Center Cohort) agreed with Prachi. He added that when he thinks about community, he centers on the issues faced by the community of people most impacted by policing and figures that If those issues are addressed, the rest of the community will also be served.
Reverend Walden (reverend and Co-Chair of the CPC) stated that she had some of the same concerns as Erin. She said that the community is not all on board. Crime is escalating in Seattle, shootings and crime are up. She stated that these are real issues. We are all here representing different aspects of the community.
Esther Lucero summarized Reverend Walden’s comments as 1) we should all think more about it and 2) we need a stop gap measure to ensure public safety as changes are implemented.
Colleen Echohawk (Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club) said that we need to think about history and where we want to go. She noted that she worked for years with the Downtown Seattle Association looking at issues of safety and they never found satisfactory solutions. She suggested that solutions need to evolve and as systemic racism is addressed.
Douglas Wagoner (Communications Lead at the Office of Health and Safe Communities in the Washington State Department of Health) suggested that the CPC has an opportunity to reduce use of force and that the CPC should do whatever it takes to usher it forward. The group should look at the big picture and align themselves with DS. Don’t stand in the way of reform, be partners in the transformation and highlight accountability measures not related to budget.
Another speaker (not identified by our Observer) suggested that non-criminal calls be handled by a pool of capable providers able to respond to people in a behavioral health crisis and that funds be identified to adequately pay this pool.
La Rond Baker (King County Department of Public Defense) noted that the current situation presents an incredible opportunity. She suggested that the Commission needs to focus on the most impacted communities - namely communities of color and those unhoused - those that need to be protected because the other communities are well taken care of. She suggested that the Commission go through the recommendations at DS and comment on each. La Rond also noted that the current approach is not working, crime has increased and again we need to align with the communities most impacted. She also suggested that the CPC look at other models.
Suzette Dickerson (WSCCCE AFSCME Council 2) agreed with Erin.. She suggested that the Commission look at where the work is decreased and also looked at enhancing services.
Officer Mark Mullins (Seattle Police Department) asked what training a civilian accountability investigator would undergo before serving as a civilian in the Office of Police Accountability.
The issue of alignment with DS will be discussed further next week. Esther Lucero suggested that commission members email their thoughts/ recommendations to her if they didn’t get to provide them during the meeting.
Met last Friday and distilled recommendations and sent them on to OIR on 9/25/20. Committee will meet again to continue looking at top priorities and whether or not the CPC should be coordinating with existing groups or develop their own recommendations.
Meeting concluded at 10:00, 30 minutes earlier than the normal meeting. Co-Chair Reverend Aaron Williams stated that next week the meeting would be longer.
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, La Rond Baker, Prachi Dave, Scott Bachler, Emma Catague, Erin Goodman, Esther Lucero, Natasha Moore, Mark Mullens.
There was no public input, but there was a call for the Commissioners to each reach out to at least one member of the community to add their voices to the discussion of the action items of police accountability and funding.
Virtual Meeting Highlights
All Commissioners were all attentive and prepared, as well as courteous to each other. After the Land Acknowledgement, attendance was called, and there was a quorum. The agenda was approved and the minutes of the previous meeting were accepted.
There were no action items from 9/16 to be dealt with.
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
There were no updates from the Department of Justice.
The Monitor’s representative Ron Ward repeated that the new Monitoring team was getting up to speed.
The spokesman from the City Council, Newell Aldrich, shared that the Budget Committee would be considering the Mayor’s budgets proposal and then work on it for the next two months, beginning September 30th.
A representative from the Mayor’s Office said that the Mayor’s Budget Speech would be delivered next Tuesday, September 29th. Then, her office would be working with the Council to reach an agreement on the Budget.
Prachi Dave repeated again that the search firm helping to select the new Executive Director of the CPC is asking for Commissioners to volunteer to meet in small meetings, along with the staff, to help the search firm understand the needs of the Commission.
Erin Goodman of the Governance Committee said the work is continuing with the Mayor’s Office to edit the Bylaws of the CPC. They need to redraw the strategic plan for the Commission.
Community Engagement Committee
Joseph Seia: They are talking about working to increase community involvement in the CPC regarding Police Accountability. They want to hear more voices.
Updates from Office of Police Accountability (OPA)
The bulk of the remaining time was spent on updates from the OPA.
Lisa Judge, who leads the Office of the Inspector General, talked about a sentinel update, creating review processes with the community at the table. She said she has been discussing these issues with the CPC since she got here, and that we have got to set up a process to get at the systemic roots of the actions that lead to problems. Ms. Judge referenced the Airline Industry and Health Care Systems: when there are failures, when things go wrong, you need to look at the whole system and how the failure
They have met with consultants of the SPD as well as attorneys Bessie Scott and Isaac Ruiz. We need to work with the consultants on an Engagement Plan, and get all the stakeholders involved, the OIG, CPC, SPD, ACLU. We need to have them look to see which experts need to be consulted: Academics, other people with expertise. And we need to decide which events will be the focus of this process.
Rev. Walden: Referenced attending a Zoom meeting and felt that it was a great start. She asked if the pepper spray on May 30th downtown when a child was affected would be part of it.
Ms. Judge said that they re plotting a timeline of all the incidents, chunks of incidents,
and have folks talk to the community about what needs review and what need deep
Esther Lucero asked about protecting our children during the protests. When are we going to get beyond reviews and start flagging issues that need immediate response.
Ms. Judge responded: The SPD is trying to do this. We need to flag things; we need the big issues for major things to be changed. Commanders who are there need to act.
Esther Lucero: How we can add pressure?
Ms. Judge responded: Offer a recommendation to sit down with the SPD Chief of Police and ask why nothing is changing, when are you going to act? Ms. Judge said we have the Consent Decree regarding the use of force and we have a new Monitor and the CPC to all use pressure for change.
Andrew Myerberg (OPA) reported on the case that came out on Friday, the first of the five protest cases and the highest profile one where the child was pepper sprayed and an officer was accused of having his knee on someone’s neck. The decisions of the OPA was that the complaints were not sustained. The complete case file is being provided in full to the CPC, but how the child turned out to be involved was that there was a line that the police drew and asked people to move back, a person grabbed a police baton, and she was pepper sprayed, Some of the pepper spray sprayed off her helmet and that affected a father and child who were standing behind her, not visible on the video. Was it reasonable to use it on the woman? Yes. It was an impossible situation because it was not a controlled situation. He said, “I am not sure what other tools could have been used.”
Brandy Grant: Why use it when only one person was pushing through?
Joseph Seia: He found the decision offensive and was trying to control his emotions. “How did you come to this decision without seeing how problematic that case is?”
Prachi Dave: Appreciated that Myerberg was your joining them today. But putting heavily riot geared police versus people is not a proportionate response. You need to review that mindset. Your finding was based on current policies and those should be changed.
Andrew Myerberg said that those policies have been changed, that pepper spray would now not be used in such a situation.
Esther Lucero: We need to advance these efforts to change policies
Andrew Myerberg asked: Should OPA be able to make mandatory policies? Right now, we cannot. We need to have more teeth.”
Scott Bachler: There is no magic wand for crowd control. It sounds as though you
are saying that police should not be at the protests. Remove police from the
mix? Anything short of this will bring about issues like this! Are you saying “Let’s not
Joseph Seia: It isn’t a matter of either/or.
Scott Bachler: Seattle isn’t unique in using pepper spray, blast balls, flash bangs. What can we do? Saying that cops shouldn’t be doing bad things? They don’t want to! What should the officers have done to handle that specific event?
Rev. Walden: Every year on May Day, people come to Seattle and tear up everything and no arrests are made. But BLM is going on and on. You say the SPD hasn't been trained in the 2015-16 recommendations. Black people didn't do the violence. What is the world doing on crowd management? People brought children to see democracy in action.
Rev. Williams: Police officers are public servants. They are not warriors. We are all in this together. Both sides have to say the other is a human being. Police officers are in a position of power, and have weapons. SPD is part of the community.
Defund Work Group
Esther Lucero and Shayleen Morris presented. Esther thanked Rev. Williams for his comments. We have to work aggressively to solve these problems. We wanted to get into the implementation of true engagement in the Defund Committee. They needed more of the Commissioners to bring forward members of the public for their responses to recommendations.
Brandy Grant: Suggested that Commissioners add one more name to the list so they can see what the community thinks, for broader engagement. They heard from Decriminalize Seattle and SPD, now need more voices.
Suzette Dickerson: Sometimes we lose sight that the government is part of the community as well. There is the potential to harm forces doing good work. We don't realize the interrelations of service delivery.
Esther Lucero: Are our connections to King County so strong that we can't use local groups? She referred to 18 people in the encampment near her building who were eligible for services, but they had no idea. Need to have joint efforts to solve community problems.
Scott Bachler: Esther did a good job of raising these issues. He discussed decriminalizing misdemeanors as suggested by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. Are we really not going to criminalize walking into a store and taking something? What would happen when a person calls 911?
Suzette Dickerson: There are multiple victims. Those who are committing crimes are part of the community?
Nick Christian: OPA report on the resolution 31962 Response to the Decriminalize blueprint:
Austin Miller (Mayor's Office): We are interested in working with the community for the Mayor's proposal.
Esther Lucero asked what that timeline is.
Joseph Seia: I would like to present that to the community group I met with.
Esther Lucero: Asked every Commissioner to add one more name to the conversation.
Legislative Agenda Committee
Shayleen Morris and Jesse Franz discussed what might be happening at the state level legislatively. Colleen not there so will report more. Draft list of priorities, noting CPC is an independent agency:
Esther Lucero: We are instituting empathy.
Vote: 11 aye, 1 nay (Mark Mullens, who noted he tried to speak before the vote, but could not connect)
Agenda Next Week
Virtual Meeting Highlights
There were 35+ participants in the meeting, including commissioners and staff. It seemed to the League Observer that only commissioners and staff spoke and there was no formal time for public comment. One attendee, Howard Gale who is a Seattle police accountability activist entered stinging chat messages critical of the CPC.
This week there were 2 guests: Councilmember Andrew Lewis and Andrew Myberg from the Office of Police Accountability. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc. It was a very substantive and lively meeting.
Governance Committee: None
Demonstration/Defund Work Group
With five minutes left in the meeting the demonstration management committee began discussion of what was to be a lengthy discussion about the need to bring community voices to the table, but they need to make specific recommendations. The Commission wants to strengthen relations with the community and mend relationships where they need to be mended. They may have an extended meeting on Friday. They are under a tight timeline.
Legislative Agenda and Police Accountability Work Group
The Legislative Committee identified and reported on the top 4 CPC legislative priorities for the 2021 session:
Discussion with CM Andrew Lewis about Policing Alternatives
Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis joined the meeting to discuss the proposed Public Health-Informed 911 Response Service. He shared that the City is working on restructuring the 911 response system knowing it’s a matter of interest for the commission and community. He discussed several established models:
CM Lewis noted that the CAHOOTS program was a police abolitionist program. In closing Lewis said we need to have a plan for building infrastructure, and we need a cultural shift. People will have to learn to stop calling police when it’s not appropriate. He mentioned the Third Door Coalition which is focused on scaling up mental health services in the region and legislation he is promoting that would change building requirements an save up to $70,000 per unit of housing.
Discussion with Andrew Myberg about Shootings
The Commission also heard from Andrew Myberg from the Office of Police Accountability. He was there to talk about the status of investigations of two officer-involved shootings of victims Shaun Fuhr and Terry Caver. They reviewed what’s happening with the 18,000 complaints made between May and September, 2020 regarding SPD’s action/behavior toward protesters.
OPA is investigating the Caver shooting, going through the process. Myberg said it appears the three officers failed to deescalate before use of deadly force. Taser was used but was ineffective. Mr. Caver apparently had a knife. This led to an impassioned plea by one of the Commission members to Andrew all that he can to address the killing of people who have knives. Officer Mullins chimed in and said that knives can be deadly weapons and that police deescalate situations involving knives all the time, but the public doesn’t hear about those instances. As an aside, Officer Mullins later said that he wanted to be clear that he considers the police shootings of people with knives as very serious.
In the Fuhr case, the League Observer believed the Commission was waiting for a complaint to be made. They don’t investigate and unless a complaint is made about officer behavior. One commissioner thought that there should be a policy change and that all officer-involved shootings should be investigated. Myberg reminded the CPC that they have access to all closed cases and that every 30 days OPA will provide those cases for review to the CPC. One of the Co-chairs said that the CPC will establish a policy of reviewing and auditing cases, noting that accountability expectations pertain to the CPC commission as well as their partners.
Regarding the 18,000 complaints made against SPD, Myberg said that 14,000 of them were related to the pepper spraying of a child. They further narrowed the other 4,000 to 100 unique conduct allegations. They’ve been looking at 100 cases and on Friday, September 18, they will release six reviews to the public.
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, LaRond Baker, Prachi Dave, Emma Catague, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Esther Lucero, Mark Mullens, Alina Santinan.
Virtual Meeting Highlights
Everyone was attentive and well prepared. They were always courteous. After the land acknowledgment, there were the motions to approve the agenda and the minutes from9/2/2020. Both of the motions were passed.
There were no action items to review
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
There were no Department of Justice updates.
Mr. Ron Ward of the Monitor’s Office appeared to report on the new Monitor who was named after the previous Monitor, Merrick Bobb, resigned. He is Antonio Oftelie, a Harvard Professor and tech innovator. Monisha Harrell, formerly a Commission on the CPC board, was appointed the Deputy Monitor. The new board of the Monitor’s Office includes Matthew Barge and Ron Ward, who was reappointed.
From the Seattle City Council’s Office Newell Aldrich reported that they have heard about the issues of crowd control and the use of weapons. They are due to come up with their proposals which are due on October 3rd. (See also CM Andrew Lewis' update below.)
Mayor’s Office had no updates.
Monisha Harrell was thanked for her work with the Commission. Brandy Grant, the interim Executive Director, asked that the new Monitor and Deputy meet with the Community Police Commission.
Erin Goodman, of the Governance Committee, said that they were looking at the bylaws to be reviewed by the Mayor’s Office. The firm helping in the search for the new Executive Director has reached out to the Commissions to join in interviews of a new Director. Several Commissioners volunteered for the small group interviews: Prachi Dave, Rev. Walden, Suzette Dickerson, Colleen Echohawk, Douglas Wagoner, Esther Lucero, Rev. Williams and La Rond Baker.
Asked to go later because they had such a lengthy report: Esther Lucero and Shayleen Morris of the Defund Workgroup were those who could bring the Commission up to date. (As it turned out, the meeting ran much longer than expected, as so they reported very briefly at the very end.)
Colleen Echohawk thanked Shayleen Morris for her work in crafting what their report will look like. Legislative group needs to get their drafts to the Commission regarding: Collective bargaining of the police, de-escalation of confrontations, decertification and qualified immunity. There was a question of whether or not the Commission can act on its own — a legal question. The sense is that the Commission could make a big impact on the Legislature this time. Will they work with any other group? They are working with OIR (Office of Intergovernmental Relations), but they are an independent
There is a meeting that will be held on Friday of this week, under some pressure, because the Commission has only one week to turn this around. It can’t be a meeting of the whole Commission because if it were, it would need to be public. Mark Mullens asked for a invite to that committee, and previously, apparently, other members had volunteered.
Discussion with CM Lewis on Police Funding
Next came a long report from Council member Andrew Lewis. He thanked the Commission for inviting him and he focused on what the restructuring of the first response in Seattle will be. What will be responding to crisis if not the police?
CM Lewis referenced a group called CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets). It has worked in Eugene, OR for thirty or so years along with the police. It deals on its own with 911 calls regarding drug overdoses, bad trips on drugs, extreme poverty needs (socks and food).
There is also a Denver, CO group called STAR which works this unhoused people. These groups do not respond to crimes, but 56% of Seattle Police calls are not for crimes. We have a similar pilot program here: Help One, run out of the Fire Department. CM Lewis is working to double the program, which currently has only one van. They are hoping to add a second vehicle and expand the hours. The Defender Association could be a partner, since they have acquired an old clinic, and they are looking to do a CAHOOTS-style transport. Lewis is looking to raise $50,000 to develop this system, and is asking for a grant.
These systems could have a massive impact. The dispatch system is very interested in having an alternative to the police, and the police also want a low acuity response system.
Alina Santinan: Sometimes it is not clear if it is a crime or not, especially when Black people are concerned. What exactly is a public safety issue? We don’t have a planned infrastructure to support a CAHOOTS, e.g. supported housing, etc.
CM Lewis responded: There is a problem with people feeling uncomfortable and calling the Police unnecessarily. Defund SPD calls for making 911 independent of the police. He agreed that we need to develop more long-term services. We have outreach but no scaling to help people stay out of trouble. We have passed Jump Start for more scalable housing for on-site services with Permanent Supportive Housing. And now we are streamlining land-use practices to wave restrictions that add to the cost of Permanent Supportive Services. 60% of CAHOOTS responses involve homelessness.
Brandy Grant: What tools and training have been instituted to insure non-violent responses by the Police? Adding mental health professionals to the team?
CM Lewis: Crisis Intervention Team has the Police paired with Mental Health Behavior Professionals. And Officers had De-escalation Training. CAHOOTS staff need 500 hours of training. DESC, a mobile crisis team, should be able to be first responders instead of just being called after police have arrived.
Commissioners said the officers need to have ongoing training and make CIT the Officer’s career instead of rotating them in and out.
Esther Lucero: Police should be decentered from crisis response. Why train police too? Seattle depends on the County instead of just relying on local groups. We should reach out to community-based organizations. Gave example of a building formerly belonging to Thunder Bird program (sic) that had been leased by the Defender Assoc. to expand services to people facing high barriers.
There was discussion about how CAHOOTS is an abolition-based model, with the ultimate goal of replacing police with civilian service providers. Police have no power over CAHOOTS.
Help One is run by public health professionals under the Fire Dept.
CM Lewis: Agreed that City is too dependent on King County for services.
Rev. Walden: Pointed out that Eugene, OR is more homogenous than Seattle, middle class, and also smaller.
CM Lewis: Recognized her point, but stated New York also looked at that program and Denver has something similar with the STAR Program. Some of the cities looking at these models are even more diverse than Seattle, like Oakland.
Update from Office of Police Accountability
Andrew Myerberg gave an update on the shooting deaths of Shaun Fuhr and Terry Caver. They are working to determine whether any policies were violated. In Caver's case, all three officers were found to have failed to de-escalate.
Rev. Walden: Do you investigate any officer shooting case?
Myerberg: They open their own case and respond to complaints.
Doug Wagoner: What is the difference between OPA's process and an inquest?
Myerberg: Inquests are separate and apart from OPA investigations and occur after the OPA finishes its investigation.
Colleen Echohawk: Shooting someone with a knife triggers her. De-escalation is necessary when there is someone with a knife who has mental health issues. In the Caver case, why were the Tasers not working?
Myerberg: Agreed there were problems.
Mark Mullens: Confused about complaint process for knife cases.
Colleen Echohawk: De-escalation can be done in those situations.
Mark Mullens: Sorry that some of these situations end the way they do, but there are many situations where police do de-escalate and you don't hear about it. A knife is a deadly weapon and most situations end well.
Esther Lucero: We need to acknowledge the triggering experience and look at all these cases. It's too simple to say a knife is a deadly weapon.
Rev. Walden: Charleena Lyles weighed 97 pounds. What does a take-down look like?
Myerberg: Trying to find a way forward. Not his job to justify officers' actions. CPC should review all the cases to be a check on OPA. If they think he has done something wrong, he wants them to call him out. Going through 18,000 complaints between June and Labor Day, which included duplicates. 14,000 were from pepper spraying of a child. Questions of excessive force and lack of de-escalation. CPC will receive the closed files in 30 days.
Potential Recommendations and Closing Comments
- Bringing community voices forward
- We add to the community engagement list of participants
- Mayor's budget speech coming up on Sept. 29th
- Call on engaging the Mayor's Office in their ideas
- Upcoming Committee meeting on Friday
Mark Mullens: Asked for anyone who wants to discuss with him where he's coming from. He is concerned about people dying from cops when they accost people with knives. Clarified: When people talked about being triggered, it made him sound like he was defending all cops.
Virtual Meeting Highlights
Public input did not happen. The CPC went into executive session while the public sat and waited for 20 min during the public comment portion of the meeting. There were several chat comments from the public on how this was not legal or democratic.
When the committee came back to the same zoom call as the public, they explained that they were reviewing public comment policy for their meetings. And that currently they could take written public comment.
There seemed to be some disagreement between public members and members of the CPC as to CPCs ability to take public comments during meetings. The comments in the chat seemed to suggest that the CPC members had the ability to take public comments but were using the bylaws as an excuse to not take public comments.
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, La Rond Baker, Prachi Dave, Emma Catague, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Monisha Harrell, Esther Lucero, Natasha Moore, Mark Mullens, Alina Santillan
Staff Present: Shayleen Morris, Jesse Franz, Brandy Grant
There was public input. Rev. Aaron Williams and Prachi Dave read several questions that members of the public had sent to the Commission. The questions were read one after the other. They tended to address matters such as the fact that the CPC does not have public comments; that there are no public meetings, and police abuse continues unabated in the community. Also there were questions about crowd control during demonstrations and how First Amendment rights were being impacted by the use of force.
After the questions were read, the various Commissioners addressed several of the points to clarify what the mandate of the Commission is and what is allowed by their bylaws.
Esther Lucero asked if they could have a print out the questions so that all the Commissioners would be able to respond. She noted that they should be responsive.
Rev. Walden pointed out that the mission of the Commission can be found by the public on their website.
Then there was a motion to approve the agenda and another to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. Both were passed.
Action Item Update
Action items were reviewed and it was noted that the filing on August 22th was sent to the Court regarding the resolution about journalists' notes and videos being subpoenaed by the City.
Rev. Williams noted that they had received some public comments, and he proceeded to acknowledge the authors by name as he read them. (See "Public Comment")
Updates from DOJ, Monitor, City Council, Mayor
The DOJ had no update. Neither the Monitor nor any City Council representative was in attendance. Austin Miller represented the Mayor’s Office and said that the Mayor had vetoed the Budget and if the Commissioners had any questions about that, he would be happy to answer them.
Jesse Franz, head of Communication, asked if there was a timeline for search for a permanent Police Chief. So far, there seems not to be.
Alina Santillan referenced the Navigation team dealing with homelessness and questioned the Mayor’s position on why it shouldn’t be removed. Franz responded that the Mayor’s position is that there is no viable alternative up and running, and so it would be premature to remove it.
Esther Lucero asked, regarding the Navigation team and the Defund team, and drug and sex trafficking: In the homeless encampment near them, there are 18 individuals who qualify for “a leave” services (note: The League Observer was unsure about the meaning of that term). Lucero said those services were intended when there were illegal activities in homeless sites. She asked if there was any movement about the next steps to take. Austin Miller said they are discussing what to do.
Prachi Dave said that now that some of their work was done, the staff had more time available to support Commissioners and sub-committees in need of their help. Also, there are pro bono attorneys who will give legal support to those groups.
Erin Goodman reported on the deep dive on the bylaws that her group has been working on for the past several weeks. They have been working with the City Attorney’s Office and the draft of the bylaws will be available in the next couple of weeks. She was thanked by Rev. Walden.
Work Group Updates
Demonstration Management + Defund Work Group
CPC Staff member Shayleen Morris reported that the Demonstration Management Work Group has been folded into the Defund Work Group, which Esther Lucero took over.
Esther Lucero thanked the staff for helping with the Defund evaluation. They will meet with SPD, the Mayor's Office, and Chief Diaz. There is a $150m budget gap. CPC recommendation is needed by Sept. 23. It was proposed that the CPC share or present on the consent decree and Council's positions. Chief Diaz seemed more responsive to the community.
Prachi Dave asked if there had been any additional conversations with Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. She wants the CPC to be a resource for them. There was discussion about CPC staff member Nick Christian to connect with the community.
Committees on Police Accountability and Legislative Agenda
Colleen Echohawk is leading the Committee on Police Accountability and Legislative Agenda. ACLU is collaborating with them and one of the issues being discussed is collective bargaining. More information will be available in 2-3 weeks.
Brandy Grant and Jesse Franz spoke about the Communications Committee and the need for individual commissioners to be on the same page, especially new commissioners. There have been an increase in requests from the media, on social media, and direct contacts. Under Article 9 covering Public Statements, Co-Chairs are the official spokespeople for the CPC so all requests must go through them. Press releases must be approved by Co-Chairs. The Exec. Dir. should do blog posts and public comments. Under Article 3, there should be no reporting on alleged misconduct or comments on discipline that could influence the outcome of OPA investigations. Going forward, if media want the Commission's position on something, forward to the request to Jesse and make sure you are not speaking on behalf of the Commission.
Colleen Echohawk asked what would happen if the Co-Chair misrepresented the Commission. Brandy Grant replied that would be troublesome and acknowledged they wear several hats.
Erin Goodman noted that was discussed at the last meeting regarding new bylaws.
Monisha Harrrell stated they need to let the public know which hat they are wearing to be clear what perspective they are sharing.
Esther Lucero pointed to the layers of accountability.
Jesse Franz spoke about the drafting process, citing the CPC's statement from July 24 regarding police and protesters. CPC shared a video "When Police Can Lie". Jesse noted that communications are challenging because staffing is low so the process can be slow.
Rev. Walden thanked Jesse. Rev. Williams added that Jesse brought a lot of value to the CPC. Douglas Wagoner noted that even though communications needs had increased, they were meeting that challenge thanks to Jesse. They asked how they could help him. He asked them to send him messages about what needs to be covered.
Esther Lucero suggested more training on media communication techniques for the Co-Chairs.
Shayleen Morris asked for 1-on-1 conversations with each Commissioner to discuss policy issues and offered times. She suggested email was a good way to talk more and keep an open line of communication.
Agenda for Next Meeting
Monisha Harrell-When do SPOG contracts come up for discussion? Have these discussions started?
Austin Miller answered that the Mayor's Office was having conversations on next steps. Jesse Franz stated there have not been communications requests yet.
Douglas Wagoner asked where they were in the process of bringing the City back into compliance with the consent decree.
Monisha Harrell observed they had been sprinting, but need some rest time for proactive work to come, to plan what they will have to deal with in the future. Proposed taking the week of Labor Day off. She also identified that they should prioritize having a seat at the table when police contracts are negotiated.
Rev. Williams agreed this whole year they had just been in reactionary mode and that it was important to figure out how to be more proactive, anticipate fires.
Rev. Walden agreed too, but pointed out they were formed in response to an event.
Joseph Seia promoted the commitment to healing justice, noting that trauma shows up in all their work. Seattle is the center of cancel culture. There is a need to respond rapidly to the family, which is wrapped up in healing and relationships.
Rev. Williams cited the need for expertise of all the Commissioners. They want to be there regardless of what happens for the community. Each of them plays a vital role in enhancing the CPC.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
There were 30+ participants in the meeting - including commissioners and staff. The League Observer heard from commissioners and staff only and there did not appear to be formal time for public comment. CPC commissioners and staff were respectful and allowed to speak and express diverse opinions.
The CPC received several written public comments during the last week. A sampling:
Action Items Review
None, but the Observer allowed she may have missed something. The group mentioned something had been filed with the King County Police Officer's Association, but it was not clear what they were referencing.
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
- DOJ, no update
- Monitor, no one present;
- Council, no one present;
- Mayor's Office - A representative was present and noted that on 8/21/20 the mayor vetoed the rebalancing budget amendment passed by the City Council for 3 reasons:
One commissioner (from the public defender association) asked what subcommittees might need in terms of legal support and noted that there are attorneys that are willing to work with the commissioners pro bono. They are open to thoughts and ideas from the Commission.
Governance Committee - Met on 8/21/20. Committee is doing a deep dive into the CPC bylaws, attempting to cover all eventualities. The committee is meeting weekly and will soon have a draft of the revised bylaws.
Demonstration/Defund work group.
Legislative agenda and police accountability work group. They are working with the WA State ACLU and the Washington Coalition [unintelligible - perhaps the WA Coalition on Police Accountability] regarding use of force issues and collective bargaining and I-940.
Presentation/Discussion on CPC External Communications
CPC staff presented a PowerPoint on CPC‘s current external communication process with the media, social media and in response to direct contacts.
In sum, the co-chairs are the official spokespeople to the media, the views they provide must be the views of the majority of the CPC commission. The executive director and staff can handle social media, blog posts, etc. Individual commission members are free to voice opinions as long as they are clear they aren’t speaking on behalf of the CPC.
Later in the meeting, concerns were voiced that co-chairs might be inadvertently misrepresenting the collective CPC stance. The governance committee said that the changed bylaws will clarify. Also, reiterated was the CPC’s limitation regarding talking about specific cases of misconduct. They don’t have access to any non-public information. They can only discuss systemic issues related to misconduct.
In general, there are many challenges facing the CPC. Staffing is down, the number of issues the CPC is working on has expanded greatly this year and the CPC is regularly asked to respond rapidly to questions/issues which requires getting a consensus from 21 commission members.
Agenda items for the next meeting. They will have a response to the public comments. Also in this context was a question about SPOG contract talks. Mayor’s staff said that pre-negotiations are happening. CPC wants to know the city's plan for working with the CPC on contract negotiations, emphasizing that the CPC needs to have a seat at the table.
Virtual Meeting Highlights
There were 34+ participants in the meeting, including commissioners and staff. The League Observer believed only commissioners and staff spoke as there was no formal time for public comment. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc. The Commission was dealing with multiple complex issues.
Action Items Review
No update from DOJ, the Monitor or the Council. Someone from the Mayor's Office expressed appreciation for allowing Mayor's Office to participate in the defund workgroup.
Governance Committee - Taking steps to hire a permanent director for the CPC.
Work Groups - Lots of room for people to join the workgroups. Also, it was agreed that each work group should have a Lead Commissioner with staff providing support.
Demonstration Management Committee - Demonstration management and defunding sub-groups have been combined. Staff for the CPC referred to a crowd control proposal that had been sent to everyone prior to the meeting which was discussed at length later in the meeting. They will be reaching out to the community next week and to service providers in anticipation of the fall deadline for the 2021 budget.
Legislative agenda and police accountability work group - They are looking at contracts, state and city legislative agenda, I-940 enforcement and police contracts, including the SPOG contract.
At the conclusion of the meeting one of the members asked that more information be presented by each of the subcommittees at the CPC meetings.