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More Ruse News, Fewer Stops for Traffic Infractions

Notes from the Emerald City
More Ruse News, Fewer Stops for Traffic Infractions
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #49 • View online

WA State Legislature News
First up today we have HB 1788, which would un-do reforms made last year with HB 1054 and revert to a previous standard of Reasonable Suspicion for vehicular pursuits. People Power Washington - Police Accountability OPPOSES this bill.
Next up we have several bills up for executive session in the House on this Thursday, January 20: HB1756 (solitary confinement), HB1507 (independent prosecutor), HB1735 (limiting the types of court orders where officers can use force), and HB1719 (clarifies use of certain less lethal weapons). You can email the members of the Public Safety committee to urge them to pass some or all of these bills out of committee. Email addresses and a script are available here.
Seattle News
Carolyn Bick has updated their story on the SPD ruse scandal and it’s worth another read:
According to Converge Media’s Jan. 12 Morning Update show, new Mayor Bruce Harrell said when questioned by Converge Media at a press conference that same morning that none of the EOC staff told him they knew about the ruse or had information about it.
“A couple of days ago, I was at the Office of Emergency Management, talking to its director and its assistant director … and we asked the question, ‘Did you know there was a ruse going on?‘” Harrell said. “As you know, OEM [Office of Emergency Management] was activated … and they said they did not know there was a ruse — which then, in our inquiry, raises some issues, that if they are making tactical decisions based on false information, that is problematic.”
They also included communications from SCSO (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office), including an email sent the day before the ruse took place, in which Sgt. Caterson wrote, “Thus, guys are very concerned about working down there with the current climate, the restrictions/bans, SPD policies and how they differ from our policies, etc. This is coupled with the fact that SPD officers are sitting around their respective precincts while other agencies are working their city.” This is relevant because the SPD Captain involved with planning the ruse later stated he did so after “all our mutual aid partners … had abandoned us.”
SPD Chief Diaz announced on Friday that SPD will no longer stop people for four minor traffic infractions:
  • not wearing a bicycle helmet
  • missing, expired, or improperly displayed registration
  • cracked windshields
  • items hanging from the rear-view mirror
None of these infractions pose a serious risk to safety, according to experts, and the Chief has said it’s possible other infractions will be added to the list in the future. It’s important to note this policy shift might not result in much of a change on the ground, as SPD staffing issues have already meant less policing in this area.
On Thursday Mayor Harrell announced he wants to create a third public safety department for unarmed responders who are well-trained in de-escalation techniques. While this brings up the question as to why this couldn’t simply be housed in the already existing CSCC (Community Safety and Communications Center), the location and name of such a department is less important than its getting stood up in the first place–as long as it remains independent from SPD.
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Amy Sundberg

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

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