US Attorney Jenny Durkan's bizarre press conference last week has brought more overdue criticism of her handling of police reform.
On Thursday, Durkan attacked a widely misinterpreted presentation* about low-level crime statistics, saying it was not sanctioned by anyone in the police-reform process, as the Seattle Times reported. In fact, it was. The Community Police Commission, a civilian advisory board created by the federal court settlement to reform the SPD, requested the presentation. SPD official Bob Scales, who works in the compliance division that ensures reform is working, delivered the presentation.
So the Community Police Commission struck back against Durkan yestday (without actually mentioning her by name). And today the SPD is swiping back, too (again without mentioning Durkan by name). An SPD Blotter post this morning says—yuuuuuup—this was absolutely sanctioned by the SPD as part of the reform process.
Why should anyone care about this wonky bullshit?
Because Durkan is acting like out-of-touch bully lately—dissing the citizens and good cops actually reforming the SPD while praising or ignoring the rotten, anti-reform, right-wing-union cops who are part of the problem.
Unbelievably, Durkan has repeatedly supported interim chief Harry Bailey, who pushed pro-reform leaders into retirement, overturned misconduct verdicts against cops guilty of misconduct, shifted blame, and was caught making dishonest statements about it.
That presentation on low-level crimes used imperfect data (which everyone acknowledged at the time, because some data is imperfect), but the presentation showed the SPD being transparent and collaborative. It showed the police commission doing great work.
Lots of folks have treated Durkan and the rest of the US Department of Justice, which originally charged the SPD with a pattern of excessive force in 2011, like they are the divine authority on police reform. They're not. Durkan has been motivated lately by apparently cronyism, in denial about real problems, and aimed her fire at the wrong people. She's finally getting called out.
* The presentation was sold in the media, and by politicians, as an "alarming" report that showed officers de-policing low-level crimes, leading to danger and disorder on the streets. Others folks acted like adults. The police commission explained yesterday that the drop in low-level enforcement (infractions like jaywalking) "may likely reflect the Department moving in directions that DOJ, the CPC and many other community leaders have long called for: de-escalation of minor incidents, crisis intervention training for engaging mentally ill individuals, and community-based diversion of many quality of life-type offenses."