The Seattle Community Police Commission has submitted the following letter, along with 15 recommendations and more than 150 public comments, to the Seattle Police Department concerning their proposed use of force and crowd control policy changes.
Dear Chief Adrian Diaz,
On behalf of the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC), we submit the attached recommendations and community input concerning the proposed changes to Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) use of force and crowd management policies. In this last year SPD’s actions have resulted in violence, tear gassings, nearly deadly use of blast balls and other weapons, and systemic violations of First Amendment rights.
In December 2020, SPD asked the CPC for feedback on 123 pages of policies for an update of the SPD Manual’s use of force and crowd management policies. The CPC immediately asked how community input would be considered during this process, particularly after SPD and City leadership had committed to a community-led process that centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color to re-envision policing together. While SPD repeatedly declined our request to discuss the proposed policies at a CPC meeting, they agreed to a brief deadline extension to the end of January and to participate in CPC-led community engagement.
With the deadline extended, the CPC partnered with Seattle Group for Police Accountability (Braxton Baker), Black Action Coalition (Travonna Thompson-Wiley), Colorful Communities (Le’Jayah Washington), Nikkita Oliver, Converge Media (Omari Salisbury), and the Seattle Police Department (Assistant Chief Lesley Cordner, Assistant Chief Thomas Mahaffey, and Rebecca Boatright) to stream a Town Hall discussion on SPD’s proposed changes. The goal was to give community members, particularly those who have been on the ground protesting and were most affected by SPD’s use of force and crowd management over the last many months, an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns directly to SPD. We also published summaries of our analyses of the proposed policy changes to our website, where the public could learn about the proposed changes and share feedback, questions, and concerns.
After compiling the feedback we received via email, the website, on social media, and during the Town Hall, we crafted the attached recommendations. While we were not able to run a systematic analysis, and address each individual concern, we believe these recommendations address salient issues that were expressed by several community members. This is not final, but rather an initial important step in CPC’s ongoing work to represent community interests. In addition to the recommendations, we have also enclosed de-identified copies of the comments the CPC received via email and the website. We hope SPD will read them and adjust their policies to reflect the changes the community has asked for.
We urge the Seattle Police Department, Monitor, and the Department of Justice to understand that SPD’s actions have severely damaged community trust, and to take these recommendations – embracing community wisdom and acting on their calls – as a road map towards rebuilding that trust.
The Seattle Community Police Commission