“Together with the Department of Justice, a court-appointed Federal Monitor and the Community Police Commission, we have worked to create and implement a comprehensive and transparent police accountability system that will be the most robust in the nation.
This includes ensuring that we have clear policies and protocols in place to investigate incidences when force is used. These investigations must take place quickly and comprehensively. Ingrained in my values – and the values of our city – is ensuring that people are able to protest peacefully to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression while providing the resources, support and training necessary for our police department to do their jobs and protect the public’s safety at these protests.
Under the accountability system that we’ve set up, the uses of force that occurred during the MLK protests are currently under review and being investigated. Moving forward, the City must also continue to implement many other reforms to ensure our officers are adequately trained and prepared to serve and protect all of Seattle’s residents.”
Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole outlined the department’s new pilot project on body-worn cameras, as well as unveiled the new uniforms officers will be wearing as they police Seattle streets.
“Body cameras have been a long-time coming and they are finally here,” said Murray. “This tool will improve community policing and support accountability for our officers. Above all, they will make our neighborhoods safer.”
“Body cameras will be a game changer, a progressive means to improve public safety, police accountability, transparency, and trust with the community,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.
The department’s East Precinct will train 12 officers in the use of the body cameras. Field deployments will begin next week. The department will use the trials to decide between two technologies, as well as refine data retention and public disclosure processes.
The cameras will help document arrests and support convictions when crimes have been committed. They will not be used where reasonable people can assume a right to privacy — unless there’s suspicion a crime is being committed or when it’s material to a criminal investigation.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Community Police Commission provided significant input as the department developed the policy that will govern the use of the cameras.
Research has found that departments using such cameras have experienced a decline in assaults on officers. But they have also been shown to reduce the need for officers to use force.
Today, the department is also unveiling the new uniforms officers will wear on patrol, which includes a new patch and emblem for the department featuring Chief Seattle. This is the first full uniform update for patrol officers in 52 years.
“These new uniforms look very professional,” said Murray. “It’s been decades since the uniforms have been updated, so we’re overdue.”
Officers will begin wearing the new uniform in January, with department-wide implementation by March.
For more information: www.seattle.gov/police
Standing with City Council President Tim Burgess, Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, police accountability experts and community leaders, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today announced a package of significant reforms to the City’s police discipline and accountability system.
“Our police accountability system has over the years become complicated and confusing to the public,” said Murray. “Today, we are announcing major reforms to bring greater fairness, independence and transparency to the police discipline and accountability system, and to rebuild public trust.”
Murray said that the proposed reforms would strengthen and streamline the accountability process while enhancing civilian oversight, including:
- Making the Community Police Commission (CPC) the permanent civilian oversight body for police accountability in the City;
- Consolidating the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) case file review function in the OPA Auditor, and incorporating other functions of the OPA Review Board into the CPC;
- Strengthening the independence of the OPA; and
- Implementing a large number of recommendations offered by CPC earlier this year to maximize transparency and public trust.
Of the 55 recommendations for reform offered by the CPC, almost two-thirds have either already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented, according to Murray.
Murray said his office will send legislation to the City Council for its consideration in early 2015, which is also when the City will be entering into labor negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild and the Seattle Police Management Association.
“I intend for the City to work with unions in the negotiation process to achieve substantial improvements of our accountability system,” said Murray. “Those discussions will use as a starting point many of the recommendations made by my special advisor Dr. Bernard Melekian, the OPA Auditor and the Community Police Commission.”
“A stronger and more transparent accountability system will support our officers and improve public safety in our city,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “But along with a systems change, the culture of accountability within the police department must also change. The women and men of the police department will thrive in a culture that properly rewards them for excellence and fairly holds them accountable when they can do better.”
“A good accountability system is one that is trusted by the public. The disciplinary review process should be straightforward, transparent, timely, and lead to better training for officers,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “I applaud the Mayor for committing resources to revamp the system and proposing these reform recommendations. The Public Safety Committee will go through a diligent review of the proposal to ensure this is the best police accountability system moving forward and is supported by the community.”
“The Seattle Police Department is committed to reform, accountability and using best practices in policing,” said Chief O’Toole. “We support these proposed changes as another step toward rebuilding public trust.”
Murray noted that the federal monitoring team characterized the reform recommendations as “excellent progress on implementing reform.”
The reform recommendations can be read in full here.
Press conference video
Mayor Murray released the following statement today regarding a recent report about SPD’s Education and Training Section:
The Office of Professional Accountability report on SPD’s Education and Training Section acknowledges the progress Chief O’Toole and her command staff have already made to reform the practices of ETS.
While we have charted a new course to more effective training at SPD, we have more work to do. In light of this report, I have directed the chief to again review ETS management structure, fiscal accountability measures and program outcomes.
Training is a critical tool in our efforts to reform the department and comply with the terms of the settlement agreement. Seattle’s police officers and the public expect and demand a program that builds officers’ skills and helps make Seattle a safer city.
Mayor Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, and today provided detail for his plans to fund best practices both in the police department and in homelessness services.
“This administration will use the budget process to drive more transparency and innovation in City government, as well as better organization and performance,” said Murray. “Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices, better use of data and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.
“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”
CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.
Murray said O’Toole is also conducting a resource allocation study of position assignments within the department, and will seek to reassign officers from lower priority work to the high-priority work of patrol wherever possible. Additionally, Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $3.3 million to fill every recruit class available to the City of Seattle at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center in both 2015 and 2016.
“I pledged during the campaign that we would add one hundred fully trained officers by the end of my four-year term, and my budget proposal puts us on a stable path to get there,” said Murray. “By the end of 2015, based on current forecasts for attrition, we will be halfway toward my goal of one hundred additional officers, and my next two-year budget will plan to close the remaining gap. By the end of 2016, my budget will fund the highest number of fully trained officers in SPD’s history.”
Murray said his 2015-16 budget proposal will fully fund compliance with the federal court order.
Murray also announced plans in his 2015-16 budget to add $2.75 million in new investments in human services. He said his proposal will leverage new resources for homelessness services in particular, including expanding the best-practice strategy of rapid rehousing, and creating capacity at homeless shelters by moving long-term stayers into permanent housing – a suite of new investments in homelessness services totaling $1.5 million annually in 2015 and 2016.
“Investments in rapid rehousing are more successful and less costly than any other strategy for assisting unsheltered individuals,” said Murray. “I signed onto the First Lady’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and my budget proposal includes funding for a rapid rehousing program targeted at veterans that will help us achieve this important goal.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $600,000 annually to fund a program for 150 homeless single adults, targeting veterans, to receive rapid placement into housing, rental assistance, and employment support. Murray’s budget proposal will also fund efforts to move 25 of the longest-term stayers at homeless shelters into permanent housing, which will free up 3,375 shelter bed nights.
“There are more than 2,300 individuals living unsheltered in Seattle on any given night, and emergency shelters are at capacity, said Murray, who said his budget proposal commits $410,000 annually to provide subsidies for rental assistance, congregate housing or shared housing for long-term stayers, and leverages funding from the United Way of King County in a dollar-for-dollar match. “Shelters are meant to serve a temporary need, but a number of individuals are staying in shelters long term, to where one quarter of shelter users consume three quarters of shelter bed nights. Moving long-term stayers into permanent housing will help those individuals and increase shelter bed capacity for those currently without shelter.”
Additional human service investments in Murray’s 2015-16 budget include:
- A one-time matching contribution toward the capital redevelopment of the North Public Health Center located near North Seattle Community College ($500,000),
- Mitigating proposed budget cuts at Seattle/King County Public Health ($400,000), including:
o Supporting maternity services; women, infant and children services; and family planning services at Greenbridge Public Health Center ($150,000)
o Access and outreach services for new enrollments in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,
o Family planning health educators ($50,000),
o HIV/STD education and outreach ($50,000),
o Gun violence prevention ($50,000)
- Funding for an additional 40,000 to 100,000 lbs. of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, or other proteins for more than 40 participating food banks, meal programs, and other providers ($100,000),
- Support for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program providing young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and access higher education or employment opportunities ($100,000),
- Support for the Rainier Valley Corp to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship ($75,000), and
- Funding to fill a gap in senior center services in Lake City ($70,000).
Video from the press conference
This year marks the City of Seattle’s 30th Annual “Night Out Against Crime” celebration on Tuesday, August 5th. Recently, Mayor Murray laid out a comprehensive public safety plan for Seattle that underscores the importance of providing opportunities for youth and community members to enjoy their streets and public spaces citywide. The Mayor believes Night Out is a great example of the types of opportunities that exist for reconnecting community to Seattle streets. Night Out, an annual national event hosted locally by the Seattle Police Department, shows that residents and City government can mobilize resources and energy together to move toward a safer and more connected Seattle. We hope you’ll join in making this Seattle’s best Night Out yet.
Sign your block up for Night Out:
- Register your event and add it to the map. (When you register your event in Seattle, most non-arterial streets can be blocked off—without a fee—so you and your neighbors can take over the street.)
- Invite your neighbors by printing off the materials on our website and distributing around your block.
- And finally, help us promote Night Out around Seattle by liking the Night Out Facebook Page, sharing updates, and inviting others do the same.
Find a Night Out event:
View the public Night Out map to see events in your neighborhood.
Attend a Picnic in the Precinct:
Another key element of safer communities is when we all know our local police officers. Coming up are several opportunities for you to get to know the Seattle Police Officers who protect your neighborhood. Meet the new Chief of Police, Kathleen O’Toole, your local police officers, and other community members at one of four upcoming Picnics in the Precincts:
- Tuesday, August 5th: West Precinct Picnic / National Night Out
Occidental Square in Pioneer Square, 5pm – 8pm
- Saturday, August 9th: Southwest Precinct Picnic
Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW), 11 am – 4 pm (More info)
- Saturday, August 16th: South Precinct Picnic
New Holly Campus (7058 32nd Ave S), 1pm – 4pm
- Sunday, August 24th: North Precinct Picnic
University Heights Center (5031 University Way NE), 1pm – 4pm
- Saturday, August 30th: East Precinct Picnic
Cal Anderson Park (1635 11th Ave), 1pm – 4pm
Whether it’s getting to know your neighbors better or building a stronger relationship with the officers in your neighborhood, a safer Seattle takes all of us organizing and working together. Take a moment to register a Night Out event on your block and put your local Picnic in the Precinct on your calendar. We hope you’ll take some of these important opportunities to build public safety across the city.
Mayor Ed Murray addressed the Seattle City Council this afternoon on public safety and partnering for safer neighborhoods.
Watch the Seattle Channel footage:
- Read Murray’s remarks, as prepared
- Read Murray’s Comprehensive Public Safety Strategy for Seattle
- Read Melekian’s Police Accountability: A strategic roadmap for the Seattle Police Department
“First of all, I want to thank Councilmember Bruce Harrell and the entire City Council for their action today. “I also want to thank interim Chief Harry Bailey, for his leadership and commitment to the Seattle Police Department, his passion for protecting the people of Seattle, and his deep compassion for our communities. “And I want to welcome Chief Kathy O’Toole. “Again and again, I’ve been asked if I chose you because you’re a woman. And again and again, I’ve answered that, no, I chose you because you’re Irish. “But the fact is, I chose you because you’re the best. “Today, you inherit a police department that has gone through troubled times. A group of good men and women who everyday put their lives on the line for the safety of the people of this city, and who deserve the strong and clear leadership that I have every confidence you will provide. “In the end, public safety is not about a chief of police or a police force by itself – it is about all of us assuming our responsibility as a community for our community. “Together, we as a city are excited to begin a new day for public safety in Seattle. “Congratulations, Kathy, on becoming Seattle’s new Chief of Police.”
Watch the Seattle Channel video:
In an unprecedented action, Mayor Murray this morning sent a letter to members of the Seattle City Council, calling for a special meeting of the Full Council to begin the conversation of a unified approach to public safety.
“Public safety is our paramount duty and we must move forward together with a unified approach,” Murray wrote in the letter. “As elected representatives for the people of Seattle, we have a collective interest and urgency to translate vision into action for all of our residents.” Read the letter here.
Murray will address the Council and public in Council Chambers on Wednesday, June 25 at 1 p.m., joined by the executive cabinet and senior staff.
This discussion will take a holistic look at public safety in each community from the perspective of every city department, and will address public perceptions of public safety, changes that can be made to Seattle’s built environment to lessen the opportunity for crime, opportunities for activating streets, parks, community centers and public spaces, creating job opportunities and programs for youth employment, coordinating crisis intervention and mental health services, and cultivating a police model that keeps the community safe.
The Mayor is granted the authority to call a special Full Council meeting under Article 5, Section 6(c) of the Seattle City Charter. This authority has been invoked only three times in the past decade, but never used in this manner: McGinn sent his legal counsel Carl Marquardt to Council to discuss an emergency proclamation (4/3/2012), McGinn spoke in Chambers memorializing the victims of a fire in Fremont (6/14/2010), and Nickels addressed the Council through a pre-recorded video, welcoming everyone to the first meeting in the new Chambers (8/4/2003).