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Chief Diaz's reversal of the Pink Umbrella case decision continues to cause concern

Notes from the Emerald City
Chief Diaz's reversal of the Pink Umbrella case decision continues to cause concern
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #9 • View online
Also Seattle participatory budgeting news, tomorrow’s Community Economic Development meeting agenda, more about those missing Durkan texts, and investigative reporting on the campaign to drive out former OLEO Director Jacobs

Seattle: Participatory Budgeting News
Amy Sundberg
Good morning and welcome to this morning's Seattle Council Briefing!
CM Morales has said the partipatory budgeting program is now clearly delayed until next year. An updated agenda for the Community Economic Development meeting taking place tomorrow at 2pm was released this morning, re-introducing a participatory budgeting discussion as an agenda item, where we will hear from a NYC Councilmember as well as Sean Goode from Choose 180. You can read the related draft legislation lifting the PBP proviso here, which I believe is still being reviewed by the law department.
At the Council Briefing this morning, CM Morales said the plan is to give around $1m to the Office of Civil Rights to hire three people to issue an RFP to an outside administrator for the PBP process, as well as to provide various support functions. Kevin Schofield said on the Seattle News & Brews episode released today that the OCR is quite a small department budget-wise so this is huge for them, and CM Morales hasn’t been talking to the Office of Civil Rights to see if they want to do this work.
Nevertheless, CM Morales is pushing forward and said she hopes this proviso lift can be voted on during a special meeting of her committee on June 3, leading to a Full Council vote. Both tomorrow’s meeting at 2pm and the June 3rd meeting would be good times to plan to give public comment in support of this participatory budgeting process.
CM Herbold signaled she might be adding an amendment to the legislation to move the 911 call center and PEOs out of the SPD to allow the PEOs more time to resolve differences and figure out which department would be best suited as their new home.
Seattle Scandals
Controversy surrounds Chief Diaz’s recent decision to overturn the OPA finding regarding the pink umbrella case. At this morning’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold, the Chair of the Public Safety committee, spoke about her correspondence with the Chief over this matter, including the bombshell that there is new evidence that has surfaced that wasn’t in the OPA investigation. CM Herbold says she is holding her judgment until she finds out more about what happened up the chain of command, but CM Lewis asked some pointed questions about whether this new information had been turned over to the OPA and whether the Chief is taking it upon himself to continue this investigation or whether the OPA will be doing so, as well as concerns that norms aren’t being followed. You can find all the related emails of this exchange over at SCC Insight along with a summary of the issues involved.
The most caustic article yet has been published on the scandal involving the missing text messages of Mayor Durkan, former Chief Best, and Chief Scoggins, saying:
…the context suggests a coverup. These suspicions are bolstered by the fact that five members of senior command at the Seattle Police Department also deleted their text messages. That means the question of who ordered the abandonment of East Precinct hasn’t been definitively answered, with both Durkan and former Police Chief Carmen Best denying they gave the order. It’s possible a subordinate made the call independently as they claim, but without the text messages to confirm this story, it’s a very convenient explanation.
Meanwhile, in King County...
The South Seattle Emerald has started an excellent series of investigative journalism by Carolyn Bick on the pushback and internal pressure faced by former OLEO Director Jacobs, OLEO being the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight for King County. She appears to have faced a years-long campaign against her by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the King County Police Officer’s Guild. Here are a few key quotes:
They said that this culture of law enforcement pushback against civilian oversight and closing ranks had always been present but has grown much more pronounced under Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. These same sources also said that the KCPOG had been particularly hostile towards Jacobs over a similar period of time.
The pressure and roadblocks Jacobs faced during her tenure aren’t unique to Jacobs and the KCSO, according to civilian law enforcement oversight experts who spoke with the Emerald. Even former Sheriff Urquhart, who sat down with the Emerald for an interview on May 10, 2021, agreed that Jacobs faced an internal campaign to oust her and said that “there’s something about a reformer … they just don’t last long here [in King County].
and
In other words, the new contract appears to prevent investigators from consulting or commissioning reports from any expert whose findings KCSO determines are critical of findings by an expert KCSO consulted in its original administrative investigation of a matter, such as a police shooting. The contract seems to block OLEO from including rebuttal experts in their investigative reports or testimony.
The entire article is worth a read and puts into clear relief why an elected sheriff can sometimes be unfortunate , leading to internal politicking and backstabbing and getting in the way of much-needed reform. In an interview with Publicola, King County Executive Dow Constantine says, “I think that the ability of the executive and the council to hire and fire the sheriff dramatically increases accountability. Having the sheriff be elected creates deep rifts within the sheriff’s office, it creates these political camps that continue to war long after the election is over. And that is profoundly unhealthy. So I think this is a real step forward.”
As a reminder, King County’s Sheriff is supposed to change over to a new appointed Sheriff (as opposed to an elected one) at the beginning of next year because of a measure that passed in last November’s general election.
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Amy Sundberg

This newsletter covers Seattle politics and policy with a particular focus on police accountability and criminal justice reform, while also referencing relevant news in Washington State and beyond.

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