Civilian Oversight Group Wants Seattle Police to Publish Officer Misconduct Data Online

Comments

1
Is this not what you are looking for? http://www.seattle.gov/opa/opa-reports
2
No, this ridiculous piece of crap is NOT an example of what we are looking for.

http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departm…

No public accountability, no police reform. These officers are PUBLIC SERVANTS. If they don't want to work for the public and be accountable to the public they are free to take positions in the private sector.
3
@1: No. Those are helpful, but they're reports about batches of closed investigations, not the files of information collected during the course of those investigations. As you highlighted, we can read summaries of OPA's recent work--which is, seriously, great for police ethics enthusiasts--but we don't get to see the content of the OPA files without going begging for one and waiting weeks for one of SPD's overworked records clerks to do whatever they do and fork it over.

SPD are right now zxslow-walking Center for Open Policing through the release of several years of those files because we filed a request for access to and copies of the files and paid a multi-thousand-dollar down-payment on the copying fees. At this rate, we might die before they finish, but best we're able, we'll publish those reports so other people don't have to go through what we're going through.

Here's a specific example of missing information resulting in the public being left in the dark: OPA recently completed investigation of a complaint about SPD's staff's use of stun grenades (loudly-exploding diversionary devices such us those branded as "Blast Ball") during a political demonstration last Spring. In the end, they said that what happened should not have happened (cops where lobbing those things into crowds rather than into empty areas where walking was discouraged as their own training dictates--over people's heads, even--weren't keeping accurate inventory of them, and were leaving "mutual aid" agencies' staff to do whatever they pleased regardless of local policy) but that they could not determine which officer officer fired the grenade that hit the complainant. So, no action was taken against whoever did it. And thus to the public, it appears that nothing came of the complaint, even though SPD knows that somebody who works for them caused unwarranted harm to someone.

On top of all that, it very much appears that the complainant, Jerry Savage, was able to determine who deployed the stun grenade that exploded against him. Did OPA not try hard enough? Are they covering for the cop who pulled the pin on that grenade? Are they shielding the incident commander from accountability for planning and overseeing an operation during which his staff hurled these munitions at peaceful demonstrators? Or shielding whoever in SPD is issuing a recommendation for "more blast balls"? Were OPA missing information that Savage found by searching video sharing sites on the Web? Were the particular OPA staff assigned to the complaint particularly unskilled at reviewing video and recognizing cops in their anonymous-but-for-quarter-inch-typeface-nametags black bloc formation? We don't know. All we know is that OPA, SPD's internal investigations group, declined to sustain the complaint, and thus we are left assume that the nobody involved in the misconduct was or will be held accountable for his or her misconduct.

Wouldn't it be interesting to find out just what went wrong in the process of OPA investigating Savage's complaint? I want to believe that the OPA staff try hard to do a good job. But without further information, it sure looks like they're shielding either low-level staff or management from accountability in this and other cases.
4
Thanks for telling my story, Phil. I have no doubt whatsoever that OPA Director Murphy is making it virtually impossible for me to prevail because he is trying to cover for Sgt. John Brooks--the cop that assaulted me with the blast ball. It is painfully clear that OPA was, at the very least, negligent in its investigation of my case. I can prove that. I'm going to get in touch with the OPA Review Board and have been in contact with the CPC and CM Harrell. I'm going to keep complaining and presenting my case until I get justice. Anyone who wants to learn more about SPD's violent tactics on May Day should get in touch with me. I've assembled over 100 gigs of data, most of which is film. Cops should be held accountable for what they did to innocent people and Director Murphy now needs to be held accountable for protecting cops that assaulted innocent demonstrators, observers and members of the media.
5
While I endorse more civilian oversight over the SPD, my question is what would this release of data achieve? We already know how corrupt and violent the SPD is. How will this data improve our lives? We already have all the evidence in the world that the SPD will do what it wants, when it wants, no matter who is looking (even the DoJ). How does putting more evidence on the internet stop our out of control police?

I agree on the problem. I'm just not sure how this solution improves things.
6
@ #5. Spend a few months trying to PROVE that SPD is "corrupt and violent" if you haven't already and you'll understand why we want access to all files associated with OPA's closed cases. While OPA files can be accessed through Public Disclosure Request, that process generally takes several weeks or months and that makes it much harder to effectively use the information when it's really needed. Moreover, it is now painfully clear that at least some of OPA's investigations are substandard and/or clear efforts to cover for bad cops. Making all the data available to the public will provide a way for analysts and others to uncover lies, negligence and other problems at OPA as well as SPD. Having access to all the data will also make it possible to identify a "pattern or practice" of substandard investigation at OPA and that will likely be necessary in order to get a decent Director and diligent investigators into that agency.
7
#6, The Stranger proved that back in the 1990s when they showed that statistically (although they didn't bring out the math) it was impossible for the SPD to not have planted weapons on black men. The analysts uncovered the lies without these documents back in the 20th Century.

The corruption of the SPD was proven before WTO. Closed cases or open cases do not trump mathematics. The problem is that the SPD (especially the SPOG) and certain sectors of the population just don't care. I'm not sure that more online data will make that sector of the public care, and I don't think it is possible to get the SPD to care.

Many people have already spent years proving how corrupt the SPD is. The current DoJ investigation is a federal admission to the violence of our police force. People who still say "Prove it." will never admit the problem. They will never see pattern or practice. Nothing will help them see the light. They're already standing in a star with their eyes closed.

I hope you see justice in your case. I want you to see justice in your case. But at this point the DoJ doesn't care, the SPD doesn't care, and City Hall doesn't care. Who is going to hire these investigators that isn't already part of the problem? We tried civilian oversight. It had its teeth removed and corruption added. We tried appealing to the Fed. They smiled, promised us the world, then gave us the old reach around. City Hall practically laughed.

How are these documents going to show us something that we haven't already seen? How can they change something already this broken?
8
@5: Among other positive outcomes, OPA publishing data in accordance with OPARB's recommendations would allow us to avoid generalizations like those you made and instead focus on the specific staff within the organization who are causing the bulk of the problems. It would allow defense attorneys to more easily discover if the state's witness has been found to be dishonest in the past and ensure they do not have the opportunity to lie on the witness stand. It would make it more difficult for police who do bad things on the job to leave SPD and find a job with another department where they can start fresh, avoiding accountability for their actions. It would make it more difficult for SPD management to plausibly deny they had reason to pay special attention to serial troublemakers and thus make it more difficult for them to avoid being held accountable for letting the problems those staff present fester. It might even help people better manage their staff--it's not as if they have particularly good access to results of internal investigations now.

And regardless of whether publication of this information would do any good, it is our information. These are public records about public staff and their interaction with the public while doing the jobs the public pay them to do. If we want to see it, that is all the reason needed for SPD to show it to us.
9
#8, did you just say there are only a few bad apples in the OPA and call me out for generalizing?

I'm not sure your line about defense attorneys getting additional evidence is even correct. DAs should already be able to subpoena such evidence, and delay trial until that evidence is delivered. Also, pointing out the accuracy of past testimony like that should be inadmissible in court as an argumentum ad populum.

I highly doubt this data would lead to changes in revolving door hiring practices. How many officers in big name cases, both locally and nationally, have had trouble getting a new job in a different department? As it is, when the hiring department knows about misconduct, it doesn't change the hire.

How does removing the SPD's plausible deniability change anything? They lost all plausible deniability when the DoJ stepped in. That still hasn't resulted in any real improvements. How this could have any impact on management is so far beyond me you'd have to explain it.

It is our information. It should be shown to us. We should be able to see it. But that is besides the point. The SPD is dirty. Right now. We need to clean up the SPD first. The SPD is a cancer, and one removes a cancer before focusing on life sustaining treatments. The SPD needs to be addressed directly and aggressively. BLM marches do more good than this paperwork revision ever will. Bodies on the street, literally telling the SPD "FUCK YOU! ENOUGH ASSHOLES!" is what will get more mileage. MLK taught us this. Gandhi taught us this. This is not a problem to be fixed from within by minor procedural revisions. This is a problem to be fixed from without, whole hog. If we do not get our eyes on this prize, we're just screwing ourselves.
10
The employee bargaining units have all the cards in a step like this. If the City wants to release this data it—the mayor and the city council—will have to negotiate meaning give the affected employees money. Ever since Mayor Nickels SPD is the highest paid department in the state.
11
@9: No, I did not say that there are only a few bad apples in the OPA.

Yes, I did recognize your generalization.. A significant portion of Seattle Police Department staff engage in misconduct, cover it up, or simply stand by and watch it happen. SPD as a whole is rotten. But throwing out the organization as a whole does not seem to me to be a practical option. Many of the people in that organization will remain there. I want those with the ability and will to change the organization's culture for the better to do so. Treating those staff who in many ways are our only hope for improvement as if they're no better than those who regularly engage in and/or cover up misconduct is unfair, and--worse--likely counter-productive.