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WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD's Proud Boys "Ruse"

Notes from the Emerald City
WA State Legislative Session Begins; SPD's Proud Boys "Ruse"
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #47 • View online

WA State Legislature News
There are several public safety-related bills that I’ll be talking about during the current session of the Washington State Legislature, which opened today. If you live anywhere in Washington State, you are eligible to give your feedback on these bills.
First up we have HB 1202, the qualified immunity bill. This bill would provide a cause of action for victims injured by police officer violence and authorizes the Attorney General to investigate employers (eg police departments) and police officers engaging in particular patterns of conduct.
Next are a couple of bills related to 2021’s HB 1310, which I referred to last year as the de-escalation bill. A big push from the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is to OPPOSE HB 1726, which would change for the standard of use of force from that of established probable cause (this is part of what HB 1310 did) to that of reasonable suspicion that requires no evidence.
HB 1735 also relates to last year’s HB 1310, explicitly stating that police officers are not prevented from helping medical professionals and behavioral health providers and must perform live-saving measures such as medical assistance. The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability supports this bill.
On Thursday, January 13, there will be hearings for both the solitary confinement bill and the independent prosecutor bill, so I’ll send out information on Wednesday for how to register your support and submit written comments about these two bills.
For more information on housing, land use, and digital equity bills you might wish to support, please check out Share the Cities Action Fund’s recent newsletter.
Seattle News
Late last week the OPA released a closed case summary revealing the SPD had engaged in an improper “ruse” during the 2020 summer protests. In this misinformation effort, they fabricated radio chatter about armed Proud Boys marching around downtown Seattle and heading to confront protesters in Capitol Hill, information that was relayed to the protesters, further escalating the situation and undermining the protest.
As The Seattle Times explains: “Police are allowed to use a ruse only when undercover, to acquire information for a criminal investigation or to address “an exigent threat to life safety or public safety.” Even then, state law says a ruse can’t be so “shocking” as to violate “fundamental fairness.” None of those conditions applied to the Proud Boys chatter, Myerberg determined.”
This ruse was covered up and only came to light when journalist Omari Salisbury asked for body camera footage related to this at the end of 2020. The OPA launched an investigation when this footage couldn’t be located , completed in September 2021, but the release of the closed case summary was delayed further until last week. No discipline is likely to result from the case as the two officers who ordered and supervised this misinformation effort have both since left the SPD.
If you would like to share your thoughts about this “ruse” and its subsequent coverup, you have a chance to give public comment at Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 11 at 9:30am. Signups begin tomorrow morning at 7:30am and can be done online here.
Also tomorrow, Tuesday January 11 from 6-8pm is the first of three joint CPC and Court Monitor community engagement meetings. You can get the agenda and Zoom link here. The topic of this month’s meeting is crisis intervention, and there will be a chance for community members to ask questions and speak about what they’d like to see in terms of crisis intervention in the city of Seattle.
That’s all for now, but you’ll hear from me again in a couple of days to talk about a few state bills and more evidence uncovered in the Labor Day 2020 SPOG HQ protest case.
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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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