"the Council finally closed a Jenny Durkan-sized loophole in the police accountability system."
The Accountability Ordinance was drafted by several current Seattle City Counsel members, and signed into law on June 1, 2017, nearly 6 months before Durkan took office. I know the Stranger loves to complain about Durkan, but she didn't play any part in drafting this legislation. It would be more accurate to call this a Gonzalez-sized loophole, because she was the primary sponsor.
"Herbold’s staff do not appear to have addressed one criticism of the bill from the Community Police Commission (CPC), the civilian body charged with conveying community feedback about the cops to city policymakers. The CPC wanted clarity on which non-City entities would be contracted to conduct investigations in situations where the OIG determines conflicts of interest require an outside agency to handle a given complaint."
Thus, the main problem with this bill remains unresolved, and I can merely quote from my previous comment on this bill:
"...the City can't compel King County or Washington State to do anything. All the bill would do is direct the OIG (the Council's investigative arm) to consult with its counterpart at the state level." (https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/06/14/75083757/new-bill-would-update-seattles-process-for-investigating-police-chiefs/comments/3)
It is for this reason CM Herbold's bill cannot provide "clarity on which non-City entities would be contracted to conduct investigations in situations where the OIG determines conflicts of interest require an outside agency to handle a given complaint." As already noted, above, the City cannot compel any outside entity to do anything.
The good news? A solution already exists! Again, from my referenced comment:
"... under American constitutional theory, the legislative branch oversees the executive branch, and the former can investigate the latter at any time. (Why Seattle needs a special law to enable the investigative arm of the Council to investigate the Police Chief might be a better question.)"
The bad news? There is currently one very large problem with implementing this solution:
"... the Chair of the Public Safety Committee should have had that Committee issue subpoenas to the Chief of Police, and to anyone else who had relevant information. Instead, CM Herbold wasted everyone's time with this garbage: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2020/06/30/44008034/we-must-end-the-conditions-in-chop-that-are-leading-to-violence-and-death"
I call upon the voters of Seattle's District 1 to fill this Herbold-sized loophole in Seattle's Police Oversight System.
"Since the OIG Director reports to the Council—unlike the OPA Director and SPD Chief, who both report directly to the Mayor—having the OIG in the driver’s seat on these investigations should prevent the kind of de facto cover-up that occurred under Mayor Durkan."
WTF!?!? Did Will forget to read about the "collegial" (translation: corrupt & incestuous) relationship between OIG & OPA as documented by Carolyn Bick in 30 articles over the last year-and-a-half? (see: https://hjgale.tumblr.com/post/668337923167485952/articles-by-carolyn-bick-on-the-failures-of ).
The process created by this bill will require investigators to not be police, despite the fact that nine of eleven OPA investigators are SPD sergeants (& right now there are zero civilian investigators). So the council is recognizing the problems with police investigating police, but instead of putting an end to this corrupt system they are legislating a tiny workaround for a specific type of complaint. This is a system entirely rejected by the state legislature in 2021 when they set up the Office of Independent Investigations to investigate the police use of deadly force.
But for Seattle it is okay to have cops investigate cops, finding that each and every police killing is "Lawful and Proper."
Instead of a tiny useless carve out, like they voted on today, we need a complete overhaul of our failed police accountability system. We need direct community control of police complaint investigations, discipline, and, most importantly, policy. See SeattleSTOP.org
@3: '...the "collegial" (translation: corrupt & incestuous) relationship between OIG & OPA as documented by Carolyn Bick...'
That's the same Carloyn Bick who repeatedly mis-used the term "conflict of interest," as she utterly failed to understand how the Seattle Human Rights Commission had exceeded the legal bounds of its authority, correct? I see little reason to take any of her other 'reporting' on City government seriously, either. (https://southseattleemerald.com/2022/04/29/breaking-scao-tells-human-rights-commission-not-to-seek-amicus-status/, https://southseattleemerald.com/2022/05/12/breaking-leaked-scao-memo-amicus-status-for-hrc-neither-fruitful-nor-efficient/)
If Seattle must investigate the Police Chief so often it needs a special, defined process for so doing, then Seattle has even larger problems than previously thought. As I've already noted, the Council should perform every such investigation itself, and not go begging external entities to perform City oversight work, for which the Council is itself legally and constitutionally responsible.
“...having the OIG in the driver’s seat on these investigations should prevent the kind of de facto cover-up that occurred under Mayor Durkan.” Cover-ups are what OIG does, so it is not the go-to agency for sorting out the sort of problems we had with Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan during the summer of 2020. Or for the many, many other incidents of bad policing and police abuse over the years. That is just amazingly obvious, unless you've swallowed the Seattle police reform bureaucracy Kool-Aid.
See South Seattle Emerald for a year of Carolyn Bick's reporting on deep problems with the OIG and the OPA. Even without Bick’s reporting on the two OIG whistleblowers, simply looking at outcomes of OPA investigations or attending a few CPC meetings featuring facile, BS reports from OIG could have clued you into the fact that there is no real accountability for abusive policing in Seattle.
"Checks and balances" on Seattle's top cop don't exist. In the absence of a REAL police accountability system, one of the only checks on corruption and abuse of power in government and policing would be an independent, honest, and rigorous press. I don't know what is going on at The Stranger, but there is a years-long pattern there of investigative reporting on policing that starts, builds up some steam...and then evaporates, as one reporter after another drops the ball or disappears.
Will, please do some revision and reporting to correct this bizarrely optimistic misrepresentation of the state of police accountability in Seattle. It can’t be fixed with one OIG-branded patch. Read up on YEARS of zero accountability under OPA and OIG. Contact the activists and lawyers who have been pointing out the holes in our accountability system for many years, interview them, and include some critical thinking and balance in this article. You and The Stranger owe the city and the people brutalized by our unaccountable police force, an apology, and a correction to this article.
Comments are closed.
Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.