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Seattle City Council Unlikely to Release SPD Provisos Just Yet

Notes from the Emerald City
Seattle City Council Unlikely to Release SPD Provisos Just Yet
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #8 • View online
The latest Seattle Public Safety committee meeting; an important Seattle Council meeting coming up on May 24; new police department scorecards; an interview with candidate Sara Nelson; SPOG involved with the Recall Sawant campaign; and more!

Seattle Public Safety and HSD Meeting
Let’s start with Tuesday’s Seattle Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, shall we? The meeting had two agenda items. The first, regarding moving the 911 call center and parking enforcement officers out of SPD and into the new Community Safety and Communications Center, had disagreement because the management of the PEOs believe they should instead be moved to SDOT, while the rank and file parking enforcement officers prefer a move to the new Center. The CMs passed the bill with a divided report, meaning its discussion and vote in full Council is delayed until May 24, in the hopes the two sides of the issue might reach some consensus by then.
The second agenda item was the substituted bill that originally was regarding a $5.4m cut to the SPD for overspending in 2020. It’s worth noting current estimates say there will be $13m of SPD salary savings due to attrition this year, and if attrition rates remain the same as they have been the first four months of the year, that figure could increase. However, after the Federal Monitor sent a letter to Council opposed to any cuts whatsoever, CM Herbold introduced an amendment she hoped would appease him and the Court, releasing a different SPD proviso of $2.5m regarding out-of-order layoffs to lay off SPD officers on the Brady list. The Council has determined that because of existing state law and current SPD hiring policies (they hire laid-off officers first and are currently hiring), out-of-order layoffs are not feasible at this time. This amendment passed with a 3-2 vote (Herbold, Lewis, and González yes, Morales and Sawant no) and was added to the bill.
The amended bill was brought to a vote, and CMs Morales, Sawant, and González all opposed it, although for slightly different reasons. The bill is moving to full Council on May 24 with a recommendation not to pass. If the bill doesn’t pass, the status quo would be maintained regarding the budget passed last November, and these provisos could be revisited later in the year.
For those keeping track, that means the full Council meeting on May 24 will include a vote on moving the 911 call center and PEOs to the Community Safety and Communications Center; a vote on whether to lift these $5.4m and $2.5m SPD provisos; and potentially the vote on releasing the participatory budgeting funds. It’s definitely a date to mark on your calendars!
Election News
Hacks & Wonks continues their electoral interview series with an interview with candidate for Seattle City Council, Position 9, Sara Nelson. In the interview, Nelson says she opposes the Jumpstart tax and wants to focus on jobs and helping struggling small businesses, but then was unaware that the Jumpstart recovery package includes $18m in small business recovery investments. When discussing public safety, she says, “Yeah. I think that we need to bring back the Crisis Intervention Team. Because - that - that, you know - I think his name was Derek - that was a situation that was tragic.” I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions here.
We also have yet another Seattle mayoral candidate, Art Langlie, whose main qualification for the job appears to be that his grandfather was once the governor of Washington. As the Seattle Times reports, “State Public Disclosure Commission filings show he has donated to incumbent Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, as well as the late Republican state Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond, and GOP candidate Jinyoung Englund, who lost a 2017 race for Hill’s seat.”
Finally, Publicola reported SPOG asked its members to participate in signature-gathering events for the Recall Sawant campaign last weekend. If we weren’t clear about whose interests are served by this campaign, this news might elucidate the issue.
Other News of Note
Campaign Zero and Tableau have released police department scorecards for municipal and county law enforcement offices across the country, based on the following data: “We submitted public records requests to local police departments and combined the data obtained from these departments with federal databases tracking crime, arrests, financial and personnel records from thousands of municipal and county governments.”
Of ranked Washington state counties, King County has the worst ranking at 36%. Seattle has the worst score of all ranked Washington state cities at 33%. A few key findings for Seattle: SPD has more police funding per capita than 89% of departments. 50% of all arrests made from 2013-19 were for low-level, non-violent offenses. A Black person was 5.7x as likely and a Latinx person was 2.2x as likely to be killed by police than a White person in Seattle from 2013-20. You can dig through the site to find further illuminating statistics.
Interested in some of the problems that have been plaguing implementation of Seattle’s participatory budgeting process? KUOW did an in-depth piece highlighting some of the issues:
The city employee said the issues currently surrounding participatory budgeting implementation aren’t unique.
“This is fundamentally a sort of a pattern that the city has engaged in when it comes to communities of color: not having viable conversations and putting the community in the space of being stuck between the mayor’s office and the council whenever there’s a conflict. And holding up resources that ought to be moving forward.”
Meanwhile, SPD Chief Diaz overturned the OPA’s decision about the pink umbrella protest clash of last summer, deciding not to discipline the officer in question. Unfortunately this decision is likely to continue to erode community trust in the police department and the accountability system that is currently in place.
The saga of Mayor Durkan’s missing text messages continues, as it has been revealed one of her phones was set to delete text messages after 30 days, the quickest delete setting possible.
Recent Headlines
King County Council delays vote on facial recognition ban | The Seattle Times
Seattle 911 response times climbed in summer 2020. Now, police and activists debate what comes next. | The Seattle Times
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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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