The following is a press release from the Serious and Deadly Use of Force Investigation Taskforce. The taskforce was convened by the Community Police Commission, but was independent from the CPC.
An independent Seattle taskforce has voted to adopt a comprehensive set of 15 recommendations about how investigations should be conducted after serious and deadly uses of force by police officers. They include major reforms to statewide and local investigation practices.
The recommendations will be presented to the Seattle City Council on Wednesday, September 11 at 9:30 am. Afterwards, the co-chairs of the taskforce, Jim Graddon, formerly with King County Sheriff’s Office and SeaTac Police Department, and André Taylor, founder and CEO of Not This Time will be available for comment outside of Council Chambers.
In 2017, the companion legislation to Seattle’s landmark 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance directed the Community Police Commission (CPC) to convene a group of stakeholders and assess the feasibility of conducting investigations into police use of serious and deadly force wholly external from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
To do that, the CPC created the Serious and Deadly Use Force Investigation Taskforce (SDFIT). The group includes members from various community groups, former and current law enforcement, and police accountability organizations.
The Taskforce first convened in April 2018 and had nine meetings, meeting for its last time in August. In that time, the Taskforce met with national experts, talked with and learned from the families of people killed by police use of force, and compiled a set of 15 recommendations.
After the Taskforce started its work, Initiative 940 was approved by 60 percent of Washington voters and has, among other things, required independent investigations. The Taskforce’s recommendations include ways both the City of Seattle and Washington State can fully implement I-940 in ways that community and law enforcement can have confidence in and are fair, thorough, and transparent.
The recommendations made by the Taskforce are attached to this press release. They were shaped by looking at best practices and weaknesses from around the country and here at home. They address, among other things, the following issues:
- Ways the City of Seattle can proactively work to reduce use of deadly force by police officers.
- Providing better support for families of those impacted by police use of serious and deadly uses of force.
- Conducting independent investigations that both community and officers can have confidence in.
- Creating a statewide or local body with the authority to conduct criminal investigations into serious and deadly uses of force by officers that is independent from law enforcement.
- Creating a first-in-the-nation statewide office to track, analyze, and report on data related to these investigations.
Statewide and local impacts
These recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the Seattle City Council for consideration by the City on Wednesday, September 11.
However, they also create a statewide framework that would bring all of Washington into compliance with I-940, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters last November. Right now, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission is considering rules for what will be required for independent investigations. The Taskforce’s statewide recommendations are an answer to that question. They would have the confidence of the community and create a fair and uniform investigation process for officers across Washington.