Sara Jean Green, a Seattle Times reporter, wrote a fantastic piece about LEAD, featuring interviews with Seattle Police Department officers, LEAD participants, and other key partners of the program. Check out the story!
Click here for both the TV clip and the print story about the LEAD program, and its pending expansion into the Skyway neighborhood of unincorporated King County!
The Seattle PI Article provides an update on LEAD, as the program nears its one-year anniversary. The article includes a description of the arrest diversion process to get into LEAD, the status of current participants, and quotes from participants and officers involved in LEAD.
MINORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS COALITION
Multi-Racial Task Force on Police Accountability
Community Goals for the Consent Decree with the Seattle Police Department
April 2, 2012
These recommendations for the Consent Decree are made in the spirit of accountability to the community, with the goal of establishing direct community oversight of the Seattle Police Department.
The goals and recommendations set forth in this document have more than one premise. We want better accountability, better policy and better training, but we also want better police. In order to achieve this we first must look at retraining the hearts and minds of the police force and correcting the type of training that leads to tragedy. We must once again instill Humanity into their hearts. We are people of the earth, all of us. We must work to preserve the living and keep them safe.
The police force must be a service agency to serve people. People, and their lives, must take priority over property and even securing compliance with police directives. The oath to protect and serve means just that; to protect the people, and to serve the people. We recognize the difficulty of this task. Every person has faults; we all hurt because of something. Consider that the criminal has many trepidations, and that they may instinctually flee or fight when they are confronted or caught. These are basic human reactions. It is not realistic for those who wear a uniform and a badge to pridefully expect compliance with their every direction. The police officer must maintain resolve, and hold their own emotions in check. Anger must never influence the actions of an officer who truly seeks to serve the community.
You may say that it is unrealistic to ask this of the police officer, but we must. We know that officers are human too, and will make mistakes–granted. Still, all uses of force must be reported and documented. Excessive force is not a mistake; it is an assault, a criminal act. The officer who excessively uses force in the line of duty has stepped outside of their community responsibilities, and consequently outside of their protection under contract to the City. They must be subject to discipline, just as it is for any one of us; and, their defense must be at their own expense, just as it is for any one of us.
I. SPD will be a service agency dedicated to protecting all people in Seattle.
a. SPD shall implement a policy requiring officers to report all instances of use of force.
i. SPD shall address underreporting of use of force incidents.
ii. SPD shall report all use of force, not only what is required under current guidelines.
iii. SPD shall use the definition of use of force provided by DOJ; i.e., “any use of force above unresisted handcuffing, including the active pointing of firearms.”
iv. The independent monitor shall conduct quarterly audits on the reporting of use of force so we are aware of the true extent of force used by SPD.
v. After one year of improved reporting, the independent monitor shall analyze whether force is being used unnecessarily, and to what degree.
vi. Once this documentation exists, SPD shall decrease the total number of incidents involving inappropriate use of force, while maintaining compliance rates regarding use of force reporting.
b. SPD shall reform its practices regarding stops, searches and seizures in a manner consistent with these recommendations.
i. When initiating a social contact, officers shall clearly state that the individual is free to go at any time.
ii. When initiating any type of contact involving a stop, detention, or arrest, or if a social contact situation escalates to the point of a stop, detention, or arrest, officers shall clearly state that an individual is not free to go.
iii. Unless consent is not required by law, officers shall inform an individual that they can decline consent for a voluntary search of their person or property.
iv. SPD shall also work to document and decrease the number of minor incidents, such as jaywalking or littering, that escalate to the point of arrest.
c. SPD shall work to serve the community by documenting and reducing biased policing in a manner consistent with these recommendations.
II. SPD shall be managed by and employ only appropriately trained professionals.
a. SPD shall revise its training and recruitment practices.
i. SPD shall work with civil rights groups, community members, and community leaders of color shall be included in the development, implementation and review of all SPD training practices.
1. SPD will provide communities of color with the opportunity to have their own representatives participate in these processes and ensure that training topics are important and relative to them; such representatives shall include, but shall not limited to, those who represent the African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian American, Latino and Pacific Islander communities of Seattle.
2. SPD shall work with these representatives to ensure the hiring of police officers who are skilled communicators dedicated to servicing diverse populations.
3. SPD training shall include collaboration with tribal officers and community representatives who can train officers on how to engage African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian American, Latino and Pacific Islander communities.
4. SPD shall fully participate in the Race and Social Justice initiative by immediately implementing training within the department, which shall include the Undoing Institutionalized Racism, Restorative Circles, and Virtues Project trainings.
5. SPD shall add cultural competency to its training requirements.
6. SPD will engage in the development and implementation of Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity (LEED) training for all officers.
7. SPD shall implement training to instruct officers more clearly on the legal differences between social contacts, stops, and arrests.
8. SPD shall ensure that BLEA training complies with SPD policies and procedures, and will provide additional training specific to SPD requirements.
ii. SPD shall also consult with each of the ethnic communities mentioned above in regards to its practices of officer recruitment.
1. These volunteers shall form the Community Council on SPD Personnel Policy, which shall participate in final recommendations for the hiring of SPD officers.
2. The mission of the Community Council will be to engage in the process of hiring police officers and review SPD’s final hiring recommendations.
3. The members of the Community Council may participate in the interview structure, sit in as observers during the hiring process, and may also develop interview questions and review recommendations for hire.
4. SPD shall work with these representatives to ensure the recruitment of people of color to the force.
5. SPD shall monitor recruitment as it relates to the diversity of the department, and this information shall be made available to the community representatives and the public.
6. SPD shall add, as a condition of employment, a requirement that each officer agree to fully cooperate with any misconduct investigation.
b. SPD shall have yearly required training courses for its current rank and file officers that will not only ensure that the above changes are implemented on a department-wide scale, but will also provide continuing education in the following areas:
i. SPD training shall include a strong ethics training component that specifically addresses the officers’ duty to report the misconduct of their fellow officers, as well as their accountability to the community.
1. This training shall be a yearly required course for all SPD officers.
ii. All officers in the department will be trained in CIT and other de-escalation techniques to avoid use of force whenever possible.
1. SPD shall actively promote rapid implementation of this policy.
2. SPD shall provide additional training on the use of rational decisions that give officers a range of options prior to the use of deadly force.
3. This shall be a yearly required course for all officers.
iii. SPD will provide and require verbal de-escalation training on a yearly basis for all officers.
iv. SPD will provide and require training on the appropriate use of force, especially deadly force, on a yearly basis for all officers.
c. SPD shall take steps to promote a sense of accountability among force members.
i. Officers with fewer than three years’ experience shall not patrol alone.
ii. SPD will not promote officers to sergeant or acting sergeant or above without specific, job appropriate management training.
iii. SPD management shall hold supervisors accountable for officer misconduct; supervisors shall be responsible for the conduct of their subordinates in the field.
iv. If officer conduct is not appropriately reported, SPD management can be replaced.
v. SPD shall provide additional training for sergeants and command staff on reporting and reviewing the use of force.
d. SPD supervisors will use all available tools to ensure appropriate professional development and corrective action of individual officers, to include:
i. Regular performance evaluations.
ii. Early Intervention System data that includes information recommended herein, including individual officers’ perceptions of the race and ethnicity of the people whom they contact or stop.
iii. Car mounted, body-mounted or other videos pertinent to disciplinary review.
iv. Disciplinary recommendations from the independent civilian review board, in addition to disciplinary recommendations by OPA and disciplinary actions taken by the Chief.
III. SPD will be accountable to the community.
a. Well-trained and financially supported oversight professionals will be selected from among community members to oversee the handling of the Consent Decree (CD).
i. The City shall invite the community to provide input prior to the implementation of the Consent Decree.
ii. The Multi-Racial Task Force on Police Accountability (MTFPA) shall be charged with oversight of police reform.
iii. The independent monitor shall be selected and agreed upon by the DOJ, the MTFPA, and the City of Seattle, and shall be advised by a panel of community group representatives.
iv. The independent monitor shall answer to a judge, and not to DOJ alone.
v. The independent monitor shall make its reports simultaneously available to the Court, DOJ, the OPA Auditor, and the community at quarterly intervals.
b. Community groups shall participate in the implementation of the CD.
i. Community shall have the opportunity to provide feedback on the reformative process even after the implementation of the CD.
ii. The independent monitor and the OPA Auditor shall incorporate community feedback in their policy recommendations.
c. SPD shall work to serve the community by documenting and reducing biased policing. Toward this end, the City shall:
i. Implement data collection regarding its officers’ perceptions of the race and ethnicity of people whom they contact or stop, as well as those individuals’ self-reported gender.
ii. Collect data regarding its officers’ perceptions of the race and ethnicity of people whom they contact or stop, as well as those individuals’ self-reported gender.
iii. Utilize studies of racial disparity in Seattle drug enforcement commissioned by The Defender Association and the ACLU of Washington as model for assessing where biased policing may be occurring.
iv. Secure appropriate expert technical assistance to create demographic baselines for comparison to SPD contact, stop and arrest rates that include, but shall not be limited to: drug interactions, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, gang-related stops, and arrests.
v. Make data collected available for review by the independent monitor, supervisors, the OPA Auditor, and the general public.
d. SPD shall reform its use of the Early Intervention System (EIS).
i. EIS data shall be updated to include any use of force instances, not just those currently reported.
ii. The threshold allowing officers to use force seven times or receive three OPA complaints within a six month period shall be lowered in accordance with DOJ recommendations.
iii. The City shall not allow meaningful EIS data to be rendered ineffective by any means; it must truly be a tool for early intervention.
e. The process for filing, tracking and completing complaints shall be renovated substantially.
i. The City shall create an independent civilian oversight commission with the power to provide fair and impartial review of police misconduct complaints that have been investigated by the OPA. The commission will have resources and professional staff to independently investigate complaints, issue subpoenas, gather necessary evidence, and issue its own findings of misconduct. In cases where the commission finds misconduct, it will also have the power to recommend disciplinary actions to Police Chief.
ii. The City will budget sufficient funds to allow the OPA Auditor to hire support staff.
iii. The OPA Auditor shall perform regular evaluations of the OPA.
iv. The City shall ensure respect and transparency throughout the OPA complaint process by having paid civilian staff to take complaints and help individuals navigate the process.
v. The OPA shall recommend disciplinary action for officers who dissuade civilian complaints.
vi. OPA shall further police accountability by eliminating ambiguous findings from its disposition scheme. vii. SPD shall not allow time limits to elapse before finalizing investigations of officer misconduct or reviews of civilian complaints.
viii. Complete records of OPA investigations of officers shall be available upon request by any civilian under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Washington State Public Records Act (WSPRA), whether or not the investigation resulted in a “sustained” finding, to the extent permissible by law.
ix. SPD shall release in-car video and any other video in its possession whenever it receives a request for such information under either FOIA or WSRPA, unless such compliance is prohibited in a particular instance by law.
f. The OPA Auditor shall be able to make policy recommendations for SPD.
i. SPD shall provide the OPA Auditor with access to EIS data for purposes of policy review.
ii. SPD shall make data regarding the perceived race and ethnicity of persons contacted or stopped by its officers available to the OPA Auditor for purposes of policy review.
iii. The Chief of Police will respond to each policy recommendation made by the Auditor with a public statement that includes a timeline for implementation or a thorough explanation of the decision to reject the recommendations.
iv. The Auditor’s and Police Chief’s statements must be reviewed by the Mayor.
v. In addition, the community shall be able to contribute to these policy recommendations.
g. When officers are involved in allegations of misconduct, the City shall take all necessary steps to avoid conflicts of interest in the legal representation of individual officers, the City, the County and the State.
h. In shooting incidents involving multiple officers, the officers shall be separated until an investigator can take their statements.
i. SPD officers shall be psychologically and legally fit for duty.
i. SPD shall implement a policy to incorporate the civil service fitness for duty standard in RCW 41.12.080.
ii. Officers that have had traumatic experiences shall undergo a determination of their competency to carry a weapon and engage the community.
iii. Officers that fall within potentially dangerous psychological definitions shall receive immediate attention.
iv. Psychological profiles relating to a need for power, a need to control others, or a tendency toward violence shall be evaluated, regardless of whether or not they fit into the already existing culture of the department.
v. SPD shall implement randomized drug testing of its officers.
j. SPD shall provide venues in which the police department and its officers can see and understand that it is in their best interest to engage and build trust with the community.
IV. SPD will work collaboratively with the community that it serves.
a. Officers shall be required to interact with communities of color on a non-enforcement basis to ensure accountability, since our most vulnerable populations do not often have direct contact with SPD that succeeds in building trust.
b. Similarly, SPD shall provide opportunities for youth to interact positively with the police department.
c. To promote accountability, trust and respect, SPD shall add incentives for police officers to live in communities in which they work.
d. SPD shall reevaluate the effectiveness of the ethnic advisory councils and reestablish the more effective models used under Norm Stamper.
e. The City will meet with the community to develop the City’s bargaining position prior to the commencement of collective bargaining with SPOG.
f. After bargaining, the City shall hold meetings to inform the public about the negotiations.
July 25, 2012
Mayor Mike McGinn
City Attorney Pete Holmes
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez
We would like to thank the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Seattle for sharing two draft versions of the consent decree currently under negotiation. As a Seattle-based organization committed to the elimination of racial disparity in the criminal justice system, we appreciate the opportunity to review these proposals.
In the spirit of exchange, we write now to draw your attention to one particular section of the Draft Reform Plan proposed by the DOJ on March 30, 2012. In Section V.C on Ensuring Biased-Free Policing, paragraph 70 states (emphasis added):
"Within 365 days of the Effective Date, and at least annually thereafter, [the Seattle Police Department (SPD)] shall assess (with the Racial Equity Toolkit or otherwise) all SPD programs, initiatives, and activities to ensure that no program, initiative, or activity is applied or administered in a manner that discriminatorily targets individuals."
Assessing whether any SPD programs, initiatives, and activities “discriminatorily targe[t] individuals” is insufficient to address both the DOJ’s and the community’s concerns about biased policing by SPD. Instead, Paragraph 70—as well as any enforceable provision implemented to ensure biased-free policing—should adopt the disparate impact standard of discrimination codified in both the implementing regulations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Safe Streets Acts. Using the language from the Title VI regulations, Paragraph 70 should state: “SPD shall assess (with the Racial Equity Toolkit or otherwise) all SPD programs, initiatives, and activities to ensure that no program, initiative, or activity is applied or administered in a manner that has the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin.”
The “disparate effects” language better addresses the DOJ’s and the community’s expressed concerns about both intentional and unintentional discrimination by SPD. By its plain language, the phrase “discriminatorily targets” addresses only intentional discrimination. Yet, in its Findings Letter dated December 16, 2011, the DOJ not only noted incidences of overt discrimination, but also repeatedly pointed to concerns about the discriminatory effect of SPD’s practices. For example, the DOJ “found troubling practices that could have a disproportionate impact on minority communities,” and recommended that SPD “develop appropriate training curricula that properly address the potential for implicit bias,” not only explicit bias. Letter from Tomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, to Michael McGinn, Mayor, City of Seattle 25-26 (Dec. 16, 2011) [hereinafter “Findings Letter”]. Thus, any enforceable provision implemented to ensure biased-free policing should address unintentional discrimination.
The “disparate effects” language also finds support in existing legal standards that are currently binding on SPD’s practices. To our knowledge, the phrase “discriminatorily targets” is not drawn from anti-discrimination law: that formulation has never been used in any previous judicial decision or DOJ consent decree. In contrast, as the DOJ laid out its Findings Letter, both “Title VI’s implementing regulations and the Safe Streets Act proscribe recipients of federal funding, such as SPD, from engaging in law enforcement activities that exert a discriminatory effect on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” Findings Letter, 25. Since 2009, SPD has been awarded more than $2 million in DOJ funding, and the city of Seattle has been awarded more than $7 million in law enforcement-related DOJ funding, clearly subjecting SPD to Title VI and the Safe Streets Act. The force of these federal regulations should not be undercut by a Consent Decree that audits SPD practices only for intentional discrimination, while leaving unintentional disparate impact discrimination unchecked.
Because the “disparate effects” language is drawn from legal standards, rich case law has already defined the type of statistical evidence needed to demonstrate disparate impact. See, e.g., Watson v. Fort Worth Bank &Trust, 487 U.S. 977, 994 (1988); Int’l Broth. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 336 (1977). This long-established guidance stands in sharp contrast to the ambiguity of the phrase “discriminatorily targets.” Moreover, by using statistics and other indicators of possible systematic bias, allegations of disparate impact can more readily be measured and assessed than intentional discrimination. See New York Urban League, Inc. v. State of N.Y., 71 F.3d 1031, 1036 (2nd Cir.1995); Larry P. by Lucille P. v. Riles, 793 F.2d 969, 982 (9th Cir.1984).
Furthermore, using the “disparate effects” language more fully realizes the DOJ’s recommendations and meaningfully furthers police reform. The Findings Letter noted, “Of the deficiencies we identified, perhaps the most important is SPD’s failure to collect and analyze data that could address and respond to the perception that some of its officers engage in discriminatory policing.” Findings Letter, 6. Only the use of a well-defined disparate impact standard can address the community’s strong perception that SPD engages in discriminatory policing by requiring a credible data-driven assessment.
Finally, only the DOJ can enforce a disparate impact standard against SPD. Private causes of action must meet a more difficult standard of proof by showing that a facially neutral policy or law both is motivated by a discriminatory purpose and results in discriminatory effect. See Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229 (1976); Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001). Thus, the DOJ’s investigation of SPD presents a unique opportunity for the City of Seattle to implement forward-thinking and far-reaching police reforms in the area of biased-free policing. We urge all parties to seize this historical opportunity to enforce the law to its fullest degree by utilizing a disparate impact standard of discrimination in any enforceable provision regarding biased-free policing in SPD.
Deputy Director / The Defender Association
Supervisor / Racial Disparity Project
Legal Intern / Racial Disparity Project
Harvard Law School & Kennedy School of Government / Class 2013
Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellow
Racial Disparity Project
Racial Disparity Project