The company boasted the software could measure online "sentiment" and predict an eruption of violence at protests. mike force


This is a fantastic scoop Ansel. As a Seattle citizen I just wanted to say thanks.
It would be interesting to find out which SPD staff were involved with the acquisition and use of this software. A good portion of the people who thought this was a good idea likely have additional interesting work projects that could use some public scrutiny.
Wonder what else SPD blows money on?
Well done, Ansel. Real recognize real, and all that.
Crap...Ansel actually did some real reporting!! Good job! It almost makes me believe in God
I am shocked that there is illegal surveillance going on in this Police State.

You are all Serfs.


Serfs have rights...
I think that last part - about the toothless City Council - is probably true. We find that in so many areas that elected officials, who have the power to bring the hammer down, don't do it.

If you have children you know if you do not discipline truly bad behavior, your kid knows he/she can get away with it. Same with this issue; if SPD doesn't get more than a "tsk tsk", they will do this kind of thing again.
Where can the public find further break-down of SPD's $300 million budget? The explanatory document from O'Toole on the topic is only very high-level. For instance, more than $50 million annually is budgeted for "special operations" (which is defined on page 16 of the aforementioned document as the providing of "crowd control, special event, search, hostage, crisis, and marine-related support"). That is about 50% more than we budget for the department's largest precinct.

I would like to see details behind the $33 million or the north precinct, $52 million for "special operations," $9 million for "special investigations," etc.
That's an enormous amount of data. So much data that there are not enough humans to process it. Social media data is public. If access to that data was accessible only in subsets obtained by SQL queries, for example, there should be nothing wrong with law enforcement to use that data for criminal investigations and public safety. Such as "SELECT * FROM Facebook WHERE Post.Contains("I killed") AND ZIP = 98101.
So Big Brother has been watching you.
Makes me glad I don't use social media. Or depend on SPD to follow the rules.
@12, first they came for the social media users... at the risk of invoking Godwin's law, this is akin to you saying "glad I'm not Jewish or Socialist."

Thanks to Ansel for the fine reporting, and especially to the guy who took the trouble of making the FOIA request in the first place. Let's hope our City Council grows some backbone and ensures that there are real consequences when SPD wants to be above the law.
Welcome to the age of ctOS. There's no turning back now!
Police departments across the country, including SPD, are compiling massive database of personal info on millions of us. You don't have to be charged with a crime. You can be walking or driving legally. What first started as data collection looking for 'suspicious behaviors' which might be linked to a crime has morphed into collecting anything goes. After all, that loosely defined suspicious activity is whatever a police officer feels it to be.

These databases are not easily accessible to public scrutiny which makes it difficult to verify or correct if the info is wrong. Yet people are being targeted, monitored, stopped because of what's in these databases. Can these actions violate the 4th amendment? The police are building DNA database as well and you don't have to be guilty of a crime to be included. There aren't any national standards to monitor these practices for quality and with rigorous check and balance to prevent abuse and protect our 4th amendment right.

Charleston Post and Courier did a great investigative piece here:…

Keep at it Mr. Herz, because I don't know if the Seattle Times has the stomach for a relevant investigative piece.

@12: Right, as if posting your chili recipe or clicking like on your friend's humor post on Trump is going to land you in Guantanamo.
Oh no! I felt safe when it was only Erica C. Barnett monitoring my neighbor's NextDoor posts, now SPD is doing it too? This is an OUTRAGE!
Why am I not surprised? Sieg Heil the Police State until next years, when we have the chance to effect regime change to remove chronic prevaricators Ed Murray and Kathleen O'Toole.
So... Is the City Attorney investigating whether a crime was committed by SPD? What are the penalties under the 2013 ordinance? Who is getting fired?
see also: "Civilian Watchdog Opening Investigation of Seattle Police Over Social Media Monitoring," by Ansel Herz, September 29, 2016,…
So... Is the City Attorney investigating whether a crime was committed by SPD? What are the penalties under the 2013 ordinance? Who is getting fired?
An appropriate use of this technology would be for OPA to use it...on the social media accounts of police.
I will believe O'toole means what she says about being committed to transparency when i see whoever authorized this purchase arrested in front of her peers and then perp walked through a throng of reporters to be processed downtown.
Boy, is it ever nice to have a political reporter worth his salt in Seattle.
@22: Penalties? None. The surveillance equipment ordinance has no teeth. It was weakened at the behest of police prior to passage. We should fix it.
How about a big, fat FOIA for the purpose of exposing the full cast and crew of this illegal activity by SPD, AND to ascertain whom of the City Council or Mayor's office may have an email trail indicative of a conspiracy charge or suit?
@27: What records, specifically, do you propose requesting? I'm very familiar with the process and willing to do it.
In a report on Seattle Police Department vol 26 No 5 September 28th to October 4. titled how Seattle Police Secretly and Illegally Purchased a tool for tracking your Social Media posts. After Reading what a stranger reporter's Ansel Herz option of the Police Breaking the law not once but several times over the years and get off just by saying they were sorry Can Not Continue if joe public broke the law they would have charges brought Upon them by the District Attorney and put in jail until they either paid bail or seen a judge for a Plea of guilty or not guilty. if not guilty they would get a jury Trial if guilty the judge would pass sentence and you would pay a hefty fine depending on what you were being charged with.
Now here are the police clearly admitting guilt and all they say is were sorry and life goes on well that’s a slap in the face and is totally unfair. If joe public is required to adhere to a set of laws, then so should the police department just because they can carry a gun and have a Badge does not mean they can get away with saying I’m sorry and we will do it again.
With all the issue with police killing people around the united states and all the riots going on in the united states it is about time someone enforces the law not just on joe public but also the police department and not leave it up to internal affairs that department is just as corrupt as the police department. And city council did not in act laws just because they wanted to because joe public said we want you to do your job you were elected to do. This does not mean the police should not use the tools to fight crime but they should be held accountable for breaking the law and we the public need to step up and demand the police to fully adhere to that laws in place. If the police department can’t abide by the laws, then they as well should be fined and place in jail the laws were placed for that reason. If I were to break the law I can’t go in front of a judge and say I’m sorry and walk out. This is exactly what the police department is doing This is just my option as a reader and feel someone should be held accountable for breaking the law. We American wonder why everyone is rioting and all the killing is going on in the united states but innocent people being shot by police officers and getting away with murder because they have a gun and a badge.
Yeahhhhh, excellent reporting. Im sure the SPD is going out of its way to see your food postings at local restaurants that you happen to be sitting at while every criminal in town is scoping out your residence to rob it. Great overall logic. I imagine the next step will be for the SPD to attempt a feces sweep of everyone in the city with their $5,000 feces-sweep technology to see who is on Heroin!

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