After being called upon to investigate abuses by the Seattle Police Department, four months ago, the Department of Justice released a report which excoriated the SPD over its civil rights violations.
This week, Mayor Mike McGinn finally issued his response — a response which consists of a 20-point plan designed to address the DOJ’s concerns.
Those 20 points are:
Protecting Constitutional Rights
1. Reform Management of Public Demonstrations
2. Develop Protocols to Prevent Low-Level Offenses from Escalating
3. Address Biased Policing
Training for Seattle’s Values
4. Train All Officers on Use of Force Standards Consistent with Seattle’s Values
5. Train Officers in Appropriate Search and Seizure Practices
6. Improve Supervision by Creating a Sergeant’s Academy
7. Improve Leadership by Creating a Commander Academy
8. Train New Officers to Understand Seattle
Earning Public Trust
9. Improve Review of Uses of Force
10. Develop a Binding, Written Code of Ethics
11. Recruit Great Officers
12. Systematic Enforcement of Professional Standards
13. Enhance Early Intervention Systems
Using Data-Driven Practices
14. Implement a Data-Driven Approach to Policing
15. Work with Major City Police Departments to Develop Best Practices
Partnering With the Public
16. Listen and Engage with Equity and Dignity
17. Launch a Customer Service Initiative
18. Provide Better Information to the Public
19. Improve Transparency and Accountability
20. Launch a Community Outreach Initiative
While reading these points, I found myself screaming after nearly every one of them … “You mean we don’t already have that??!!”
I mean, I simply cannot believe that the SPD was not already tasked with listening and engaging with equity and dignity. I’m astounded that there was not already a binding, written code of ethics for officers. I was shocked that SPD officers were not already trained in appropriate search and seizure practices.
Apparently, they weren’t, though … but we’re getting all of that stuff now. Supposedly.
What remains to be seen is if SPD officers will be drug tested (How does a society justify drug testing Walmart cashiers but not police officers?), and if officers caught violating these policies will be fired, or simply be given a couple of days off without pay.
Mike closed his announcement with the following:
“As mayor, I will be holding police leadership accountable to achieve these changes. I will work with other City elected leaders to set clear and realistic expectations for the department while providing the resources and training sufficient to meet those expectations. I will be calling upon the community to be a full partner with us as we address these challenges.”
Mike has yet to hold anyone accountable for anything in the SPD, and his tolerance for repeated civil rights violations and misbehavior has earned him a well-deserved reputation as a paper tiger on these issues. McGinn is the father who yells twenty times “if you don’t behave, I’m going to turn this car around”, but never actually turns the car around. Unless/until Mike gives Diaz his walking papers, public confidence in any “reforms” will be non-existent.
In my opinion, everything in this initiative is overly-ambiguous, feel-good, political nonsense designed to maintain the status-quo.