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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More Evidence Of Police Misconduct Cover Ups In Seattle

There's an interesting article in the Seattle Times today about the SCCPAP report on police accountability that was presented to the Seattle City Council today. While we reported on the SCCPAP report along with panel member Eric Schnapper's commentary weeks ago, there was some serious accusations in that article that caught our attention.

Apparently, at the same time the SCCPAP report was released, there was another report from the civilian oversight board (the OPARB) that the city has decided to keep secret as it was highly critical of the police department's internal investigations process and appears to suggest that the 180 day loophole was being abused in order to help officers avoid discipline in cases of alleged misconduct.

Abuse of the 180 day loophole is an issue that we've covered and identified as the most serious reform item that was dropped in the latest contract agreement with the Seattle Police Officer's Guild.

This report that's being withheld from the public also appears to accuse the internal investigations director of obstructing the board's efforts to investigate problems with the police accountability program... both the panel and the review board also site a systematic effort to avoid public transparency as a deep concern, a concern that the city seems unable or unwilling to address due to fierce opposition by the police guild.

However, the council has made moves to replace the entire OPARB panel though, seemingly in an effort to quash investigations into problems with the accountability program that this 3 member board has been vocal about. This is another item we covered that appears to be a move to reduce transparency of the accountability process even further than it already is.

These are all issues we've identified for quite some time, they are the reasons why we strongly recommend against reporting misconduct to the police department's "Office of Professional Accountability" (OPA), and it seems clear that we're not alone in our concerns either... so while it is nice to know that the concerns addressed in this site appear justified and validated, it's deeply troubling that it seems that the city's answer to transparency and accountability problems within their government is to reduce transparency even further and hide misconduct problems from the public.

The problem is that secrecy and democracy are never compatible with each other. Eventually, either one or the other will have to give.

Stay tuned.

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