First things first, one thing I forgot to mention in Mayor Harrell’s State of the City speech
earlier this week: the Mayor promised his administration would end the federal consent decree. Because the consent decree requires first that the city meet compliance and then that it pass through a two year sustainment period, things would need to move rapidly. Realistically the city would need to be found in compliance by sometime in the first half of 2023, the earlier the better, in order to hit all the required deadlines and exit the decree before the end of Mayor Harrell’s term.
In other news related to the consent decree, lawyer Sarah Lippek sent information to Court Monitor Oftelie about the alleged sexual abuse of vulnerable people by SPD officers, asking him to give that information to the Department of Justice or the federal court. Instead, without consulting her or the community, Oftelie gave the information to the FBI, which is not involved in the consent decree process. The data had been collected in 2013 by a team under the umbrella of the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA) and passed onto the City, where it disappeared from view.
Lippek also used to work for the OIG, where she reviewed over a thousand OPA complaints:
And in those complaints, she said, she “found serious, credible allegations of sexual assault and harassment buried in the OPA ‘contact logs’ and ignored, or kept in perpetual suspension while investigative procedures were ‘paused’ and unresumed for years at a time, allowing officers to retire with full pensions and without any disciplinary mark.”
Thus once again we see evidence of Seattle’s three-body accountability system not being up to the job. You can read Carolyn Bick’s entire story here
There continue to be calls for an independent investigation
into the missing text messages of former Mayor Durkan, former Chief Best, and seven other city officials. The recent forensic analysis only dealt with Mayor Durkan and Chief Best’s missing texts. The OPA says they cannot begin investigating the matter themselves until after litigation pertaining to the texts is complete, if they then receive a referral.
In participatory budgeting news
, the Participatory Budgeting Project is the only non-profit who has applied to run Seattle’s program, and their proposal calls for the actual voting process to take place in January of 2023, meaning the program will have taken two and a half years from initial discussion to get off the ground. The Office of Civil Rights won’t announce its nonprofit partner officially until sometime in March. This lag could also mean participatory budgeting might once again be left out of the budget in terms of getting any new dollars allocated for 2023 beyond the original $30m.
The Seattle Public Safety and Human Services committee meets next Tuesday, February 22, when they will discuss SPD’s 2021 Year End Staffing Report & Year End Crime Report and the SPD Retail Theft Program. More about that next week.