STOP the killing.
STOP the abuse.
STOP the harassment.
Let's create true accountability through a Seattle initiative that establishes 100% civilian oversight of police.
STOP the killing.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has killed 30 people over the last decade, a decade that began with the SPD fatally shooting Native American woodcarver John T. Williams. Williams' killing was so egregious that even the SPD deemed it "unjustified." Seattle officials vowed to reform the police and prevent such killings in the future. Since then, the SPD went on to kill 29 more people. Seattle's police "accountability" system, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), has deemed these killings either "Lawful and Proper" or has not completed (or even attempted) an investigation into these killings.
29 People killed by the SPD.
29 Killings deemed "Lawful & Proper" (or investigation not completed or attempted).
PEOPLE KILLED BY THE SPD (after John T. Williams)
Eric Blaine Evans º Mike Kwan-Yu Chen º Henry Frankie Lee, Sr. º James David Anderson º Jack Sun Keewatinawin º Joel Douglas Reuter º Martin Anwar Duckworth º Leonid G. Kalyuzhnyy º Andrew Joseph Law º Cody Willis Spafford º Austin James Derby º Larry Andrew Flynn º Stephen Porter Johnston º Sam Toshiro Smith º Shun Ma º Raymond Azevedo º Che Andre Taylor º Michael L. Taylor º Damarius Butts º Charleena Lyles º Kyle Gray º Jason Seavers º Iosia Faletogo º Danny Rodriguez º Ryan M. Smith º Shaun Lee Fuhr º Terry J. Caver º Gregory Taylor º Derek J. Hayden º
STOP the abuse. STOP the harassment.
The many hundreds of people assaulted, abused, and falsely arrested over the last year – many experiencing lasting mental and physical trauma – will never see justice from an accountability system that remains bureaucratized and cut off from the community.
Even in the rare cases when police officers were found guilty of abusing protesters, the only form of discipline recommended by Seattle’s police accountability system was an oral or written reprimand in 99% of the cases.
After 10 years of police reform Seattle's police remain unaccountable. (click to expand)
In 2010, after a Seattle police officer killed John T. Williams, thousands of people along with dozens of local organizations called for a US Department of Justice investigation into the SPD. This resulted in a federal court issuing a consent decree taking control control of the SPD reform process in 2012. But even under the consent decree, the SPD killings, excessive force, and abuse of power have continued — with no accountability in sight.
What is preventing Seattle from holding police accountable? (click to expand)
Seattle's only entity for investigating complaints of police abuse and killing is the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The OPA employs twelve investigators, ten of whom are current SPD officers. The two non-SPD investigators are prohibited from investigating serious allegations. Seattle's current accountability system saw fit to appoint a lawyer who spent his entire career defending the police as the director of the OPA.
By allowing police to investigate police, Seattle's police accountability system far too often absolves SPD officers of any wrongdoing in killings and abuse. And Seattle's politicians consistently refuse all attempts to fully civilianize police oversight, investigation, and discipline.
Is true civilian oversight of police possible? (click to expand)
In 2018, the people of Nashville took their power back from the politicians by voting overwhelmingly for a city initiative that created civilian police oversight. Nashville's oversight system gives civilians the ability to investigate police abuse and determine discipline. Last year Nashville’s police chief said “There are over 130,000 people that voted for the Community Oversight Board, and for us to do anything other than have total cooperation with them would really go against the voters who are the citizens of Nashville.”
In November of 2020, the people of Oakland, San Diego, and Portland, Oregon also took back their power, too, implementing the civilian oversight of police via the initiative process. Yet Seattle remains stuck.
Seattle's initiative process allows us take our safety
& power back from the politicians who have failed us. (click to expand)
That is why Seattleites are now planning on taking the decision-making power back from politicians and joining cities across the US in establishing real police accountability and community safety through civilian oversight.
True police accountability – foundational to any change in police culture and practice – requires, at a minimum, 100% civilian control of investigating and disciplining police, as well as more direct citizen input into police policy and practice.
Our initiative will embrace and enhance the lessons learned in other US cities by guaranteeing:
no more police investigating police,
the creation of a 100% civilian community oversight board with real power to investigate, sanction, and set policy,
that review board members are selected by, and answerable to, the community,
regular, predictable, and open public meetings where the community holds board members accountable, not where board members give their account of what they think the community needs, and
a process for people to appeal when their complaints are not upheld: police get numerous appeals to overturn discipline, yet people abused by police have no way to appeal an unjust decision.