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Friday, March 7, 2008

Councilman Burgess Asks For OPARB Applications

Jonah Spangenthal-Lee "double-dog dared" me and a few other persons who talk about police accountability issues (one other was anti-accountability vs my pro-accountability stance, not sure about the third) to apply for vacant positions on the City of Seattle's Office of Professional Accountability Review Board that acts as a civilian oversight component of Seattle's police oversight and accountability system.

I, unfortunately, jumped the gun and fell for the subtle prodding by accepting the challenge... all others did not. So, being a person of my word, I looked into the the process and checked the actual qualifications.

Sure, it's clear that being an advocate for misconduct and abuse victims and exposing police misconduct publicly like this is far more useful towards resolving the corruption problems within the Seattle Police Department than it would be to sit on a board that meets for 4 hours a month to go over heavily blacked-out closed investigation files that were "randomly" selected by the police department, only to make suggestions to a powerless city council that can't act on them because of the police guild... but my word is my word.

Anyway... first I got a hold of the qualifications from Burgess' OPA Review Board Appointment Fact Sheet, dated March 5, 2008 (I've highlighted the qualifications I do not meet:

Members of the OPA Review Board must have these qualifications:

  • A reputation for integrity and professionalism and the ability to maintain a high standard of integrity.

  • A commitment to and knowledge of the responsibilities of law enforcement and the need to protect the constitutional rights of officers and citizens.

  • A commitment to the purposes and roles of civilian oversight as defined in the Seattle Municipal Code.

  • A history of leadership experience and ability.

  • The ability to gain the respect of officers and citizens, and to work effectively with the City Council, Police Department and other agencies.

  • Experience working with diverse groups and an ability to work with people who have different perspectives on the relationship between the police and the community.

  • The ability to work effectively under pressure in sometimes stressful and conflicted situations.

  • A capability to comply with the appearance of fairness doctrine. That is, they must be impartial, not prejudge issues, not have a bias towards either side in disputes, and not have conflicts of interest.

  • OPA Review Board members must be high school graduates, United States citizens, and at least twenty-one years old, and not have any felony convictions.

  • At least one member of the OPA Review Board must be a lawyer member of the Washington State Bar Association

  • one must have five or more years of experience in law enforcement

  • one must have significant experience in community involvement, organizing and outreach.

So, clearly, my application isn't going to make it far... But ff it were to be accepted, this blog would have to be deleted and I would not be able to write about misconduct issues anymore because of non-disclosure agreements and to maintain an appearance of fairness. (and before anyone cracks on my fairness I have written posts where I site no wrongdoing on the behalf of officers).

Now, the only position I could make it on is as the member who has "significant" experience in community involvement, organizing, and outreach (I'm no lawyer and not an ex-cop). Of course, I have volunteered my time to local organizations when I lived in a different state, I've refurbished and donated computer equipment to people and organizations who could not afford it otherwise, and I've worked with large companies to establish their donation processes and facilitate donations to non-profit organizations like local hospitals and youth centers... but that's a different state.

There is this blog, but it doesn't count, and puts me at odds with the qualifications... the membership is supposed to lean pro-police by design given that one must be an ex-cop (pro-police), one a lawyer of any stripe (neutral), and one an activist not involved in police accountability issues (neutral), so my membership would be excluded on this alone, plus the blog and my experience being a victim of police misconduct means the "appearance of impartiality" and "ability to gain the respect of police officers" would exclude me from the running right there.

So, hopefully my other experience will qualify, though I doubt it. I've also sent feelers out to people who work in city hall to see what they thought my chances are... the concensus: None to less than none.

But, in any case, I'll keep everyone in the loop and I'll even post the rejection letter I get, if they even bother to send me one.

If you would like to try out too, here's the process:
"Applications should include a resume and cover letter which explains how the individual meets the required qualifications and why they want to serve on the review board. Applicants should include three references and their contact information. Applications are due March 28, 2008, by 5:00 p.m. Applications may be mailed to Councilmember Tim Burgess, Chair, Public Safety, Human Services, and Education Committee, Seattle City Council, P. O. Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025; e-mailed to; or faxed to 206-684-8587. If faxing, please note on a cover sheet that the materials are to be delivered to Councilmember Burgess.

For additional information, review the accompanying OPA Review Board Appointment Fact Sheet, or call Councilmember Tim Burgess’ office at 206-684-8806."

If anyone has any suggestions before I write up this resume or if anyone wants to act as a reference... or if anyone just wants to laugh at me for agreeing to this utter foolishness, let me know.

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