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.
Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, The Voter, for a detailed look at current events in the League.
SUPPORT THE LEAGUE
Support informed voting!