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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October In Seattle

Sorry I've been out of commission for a few days, there's a bunch to catch up on locally so let's get started...

Latest OPA Reports
Jonah, over at The Stranger's blog, posted about some of the rare sustained findings that he found in the September Seattle Police Department Office Of Professional Accountability (SPD OPA) report, including one that found a dispatcher had sex with a 16 year old runaway after supplying him with alcohol.

I was surprised that nobody mentioned the August OPA report, which is also interesting because it details a sustained finding of excessive use of force against an officer and specifically states that the officer was uncooperative with the investigation and mislead investigators.

That's interesting because, according to the new contract between the city and officer's union, any sustained finding of an officer misleading investigators during an internal investigation is suppose to lead to an automatic termination of employment... but we've not heard of any officers being fired during that period of time and nobody has covered that story.

Guess that contract isn't working out as advertised, just like I said it wouldn't.

Tacoma Washington Judge Decides On Police ID Demands
According the The Seattle Times, a Tacoma judge ruled that people are not obliged to show their identification on demand to officers that demand it just because they demand it. As you might recall, we reported on the case of Legrand Jones, a lawyer from Olympia Washington, who was fighting charges that were brought against him when he refused to show officers his ID when they demanded it while he was at an anti-war protest. The judge cited that an officer has to have cause to detain someone, and demanding ID is a form of detaining someone.

The police also charged the lawyer with trespassing because he was NEAR a fence that had a no trespassing sign on it... the same judge dismissed that charge saying that one would have to be on the other side of the fence to be trespassing.... duh.

When Civilian Oversight Isn't
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Mayor Greg Nickels wants to put police department's civilian auditor under his administration in the department of executive administration instead of allowing that position to continue being independent as a non-city government contractor through the office of policy and management.

The obvious problem here is that the civilian auditor would cease to be a civilian and become a city employee, and thus inherit the appearance of bias that comes with such a role. This is particularly problematic because, as I reported earlier this year, all other roles within the civilian oversight process have already been replaced this year and the auditor is the last person left standing with any clear experience and the director has been replaced with someone who has a penchant for defending the police, which already lends the appearance of bias. The last thing the city should do, if it values the public perception of it's police department's trustworthiness, is to fold the auditor into the mayor's payroll.

The Dangers Of Consolidating Jail Services
Finally, according to KING 5 News, King County Executive Ron Sims is trying to find ways to save money while the county budget faces a record shortfall, but his latest proposal for cuts at the jail may end up costing more.

While most are arguing on the basis of travel costs that would increase if all bookings were done in the KCCF instead of at both the KCCF and Regional Justice Center in Kent, there is also the increased likelyhood of intake screenings being overwhelmed, which would increase the likelyhood of detainees who need medical care being overlooked, which is one of the US DOJ findings the jail was blasted for last year.

With the county already facing legal action from the US DOJ and a class action civil suit over failures to provide adequate medical care to detainees, this move may cost them even more than they think.

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