Officials and Guests in Attendance
The Commission members who were in attendance were Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Saia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Suzette Dickerson, La Ronde Baker, Prachi Dave, Erin Goodman, Colleen Echohawk, Ester Lucera, Mark Mullins, Alina Santillan, Brandy Grant, Rev. Patricia Hunter, Asha Mohammad, Dr. Navin Pinto, Austin Field, Tasha Johnson, and Erica Newman. The guests were the City Attorney Pete Holmes and the Monitor Team, Dr. Antonio Oftelie and Monisha Harrell.
Everyone who appeared was prepared, attentive and courteous.
Accessing the Meeting and Materials
The meeting started on time. I was able to observe the entire public meeting. I was able to see the agenda on the website. The meeting was accessible on Zoom.
Summary of Discussion
The agenda was followed, but in a changed order so as to accommodate the schedule of the Police Monitor.
After the Land Acknowledgment the agenda was approved as were the minutes of the last meeting.
1) The Monitor Team Report.
The Monitor himself presented it, and it was crucially important to the Commission. It was a draft of the new methodology of the team. Dr. Oftelie said that the team came in to take a new look at the SPD. They are developing a monitoring plan. A major methodology as a way of measuring the SPD and the OPA as a whole in order to build an improved future.
The key areas they are going to deal with are: Use of Force; Crisis Intervention; Stops and Detention; Supervision. They need to compare the SPD now with how it was in previous years, and question how this heads into the future with or without a Monitoring Team. What should the external partners look like in the future. We need a comprehensive view. He stressed that the SPD had been in compliance with the Consent Decree in the past, but had fallen out of compliance last year.
Monisha Harrell stressed that this is a draft and the team wants the CPC feedback so that they can have a final methodology as a way of measuring the SPD. Also, the CPC should reach out to their partners who will also provide feedback. And the State legislative law that is likely to be passed in the next few days will affect data collection for police across the state. The team asked for feedback by the end of next week, so that they could present the plan to the Judge, but there was controversy about the tight timeline.
Rev. Walden questioned it, and La Ronde Baker said any statement from the CPC would need to have a vote, so they couldn’t possibly be expected to report before the next meeting of the CPC. This was agreed to by the Monitor. He said that they could adjust the timelines, and stressed that we want to be real partners with the CPC, but we want too get this finalized as soon as possible. He also mentioned that accountability over union contracts is an entirely different things, and that we can try to influence it, but we have no power over union contracts.
2) City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Holmes said that he supervises 100 attorneys, and that he represents the Mayor and the City Council. LaRonde Baker then gave the new commissioners a short history of the Consent Decree, its history of the SPD in regard to bias in policing. Holmes said that he started as a member of a Police Oversight body, so the concerns about bias are very close to his heart.
He broke his talk down into three areas:
In regard to the first area, he said that he has no power over the SPD policy. He works to advise his clients: the mayor and the council. He said the reason we are under the Consent Decree is that there was a pattern of unconstitutional policing: 1 in 5 police actions exceeded the Constitution on Use of Force. Areas that were particularly problematic: mental health crises and drug use. Negotiations led to the Consent Decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Seattle. The impact was on the training of Police Officers. When Merick Bobb, the previous Monitor was in charge, there was a dramatic improvement of 60% on use of force. In crisis situations, less than 2% of the time was the use of force excessive. The City was in full compliance by 2018.
Now, there are two areas that are out of compliance:
3) Public comment
Dr. Howard Gale, who said that CPC has not raised important questions regarding the deaths over several years of civilians at the hands of the police.
4) The DOJ Update
They are working with the Monitoring team; the Council update: SPD’s proposals for spending for civilian employees are being considered by the Council; Mayor’s Office update: tomorrow the legislature in considering these issues. OIG Update, they are working with the SPD regarding mental health problems. CPC updates, the new appointees to the Commission were introduced. And then there was an open discussion about the current concerns of the Commissioners.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:50.
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