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.
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