At this morning’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting, two items of note were discussed.
First, the committee questioned the final candidate for OPA Director, Gino Betts Jr. You can read his written answers to several pertinent questions here
. The committee voted in favor of his confirmation, with all CMs voting in favor except for CM Mosqueda, who abstained as she wishes to speak with him further as well as engage in more stakeholder dialogue. His final confirmation vote should take place at the full City Council meeting next Tuesday 9/20.
He has spoken many times of his preference for OPA to become a fully civilianized investigative body, and he has also committed to ruling on cases based on the merit of the case as opposed to ruling with an eye as to how they will fare on appeal. This morning he also suggested the next step for radical transparency would be for the OPA to release all video footage, including body-worn camera and car camera footage, as well as police reports to the public, preferably within 30 days of a complaint being filed. He also suggested if SPD was resistant to recommended policy changes, he’d engage with the OIG and CPC and also potentially make the case directly to the people of Seattle. All of these statements stand in strong contrast to the stance of his predecessor, Andrew Myerberg.
In his Q&A linked above, Gino Betts also spoke in support of mediation, a process the OPA offers but which has been little utilized since the start of the pandemic. The mediation system has often been criticized by community and advocates, so it will be interesting to see how hard he pushes for this going forward.
Second, the committee discussed the “term sheet
” between the Executive and Legislative branches around work on alternative 911 response in Seattle. As regular readers of this newsletters know, all efforts to stand up alternative response over the past few years have suffered from a lack of coordination and cooperation between these two branches. This new agreement includes provisions for standing up one new alternative response in 2023, as well as further call analysis building on SPD’s risk management demand analysis in order to determine the best alternative response models going forward. The sheet also memorializes agreement over creating a policy proposal to minimize use of sworn officers for special events staffing.
Going forward then, we should expect the following:
- money allocated in the 2023 budget for the new alternative response that will be implemented in 2023
- SPD’s risk management demand analysis report, to be presented to the committee on Tuesday, September 27
- a proposal for special events staffing to be available for analysis later in 2022
- the policy document outlining the framework for permanent alternative response models in general by the end of 2022
As mentioned above, the City of Seattle announced their three finalists for the SPD police chief position
. Two of the finalists already work for SPD, including Interim Chief Adrian Diaz and Assistant Chief Eric Greening. The third finalist, Kevin Hall, is an Assistant Chief of Police in Tucson, Arizona, and implemented his department’s pre-arrest deflection program. However, this program has been criticized by advocates who say it is neither effective nor equitable
. Once the Mayor selects his final choice, the candidate will need to be confirmed by the City Council.