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.
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