Next Monday, King County District Court begins inquest proceedings into the death of John T. Williams, who was shot on August 31 by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk. The subsequently released video and facts of the case—and a rash of other controversial incidents last year—have retriggered longstanding questions about use of force by officers, the department's procedures, and the city's policy for discipline.
Too often, the conversation is brash, with little dialogue between the police, community members, and the officials empowered to make policy changes. Further, the focus is—and understandably so—on rehashing past incidents, but not enough about what will happen in the future. We need to bring people together who can acknowledge why people are upset and that the vast majority of Seattle officers are working honorably. So The Stranger is proud to host a forum involving a range of perspectives to talk about police accountability and what Seattle can do now.
It's called "Where Do We Go from Here?" at City Hall on Feb. 3, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Here's the lineup:
Mike McGinn, Mayor
Anne Levinson, SPD Office of Professional Accountability Auditor
Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council Public Safety Chair
Richard O'Neill, Seattle Police Officers Guild President
Nicole Gaines, Loren Miller Bar Association President
Jennifer Shaw, ACLU of Washington Deputy Director
Moderated by C.R. Douglas
This is, clearly, a huge panel. But there's a lot to say and we wanted as many people as possible to have a chance to speak. More details to come soon.