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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why The Delay, OPA?

On the City of Seattle's Seattle Police Department Office of Professional Accountability website you supposedly can view the findings of OPA investigations into allegations of police misconduct. In fact, according to the site:

But... What's that you say? It's nearly the end of March and...

...they haven't published any reports for this year whatsoever.

So much for "making the work of the OPA transparent in order to promote the confidence of the public."

We, of course, have issued a request to the OPA to get their response...

The OPA gave a pretty quick response, which was much appreciated.

According to a representative from the OPA, they are planning to release a combined January/February report because their caseload has been high and they've been having to work through a support staff transition, which has resulted in some delays in generating and issuing their reports. Their intent is to still issue monthly reports within the specified time frame, though, so they have not updated their website becuase the reporting delays are not a change in actual policy.

I had wanted to say more on this but I posted the update on the way out the door for an appointment at the TBI Rehab clinic. (An aside, the folks at the UW Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Clinic are increadible, I can't get over how great and professional they've all been!).

In any case... The delays due to support staff transitions points out a problem that I noted previously (here) with the SPD's OPA, in that they pull their investigators and support staff directly from the rank and file and give them minimal training. What makes this worse is that it's a rotational assignment and it is not voluntary, as the current president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild complains about frequently as he had also grudgingly served time in the OPA department, (imagine having your case handled by that outspoken opponent to police accountability efforts!).

The current transition sounds serious though, given that the delays in reporting have been going on since October of 2007, and it makes me wonder if the slowdown in internal investigations and reporting might have something to do with the contract negotiations and animosity towards the accountability process?

Whatever the case, it'll be interesting to parse the next series of reports.

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