Thursday, June 21, 2007

Take Action Now for Police Accountability

From an email from a friend ...

There is an urgent need for action right now to help change police accountability politics in Seattle. Please take a minute to read the rest of the below email, email your City Council members, and attend a rally next Thursday, June 28, to help reform and strengthen citizen oversight of the Seattle Police Department.

As you may have read in recent newspaper articles, Seattle's Chief of Police, Gil Kerlikowske, recently orchestrated a cover-up for two police officers accused of planting drugs on people they arrested, using excessive force, and lying about their behavior. Chief Kerlikowske intervened in Office of Professional Accountability's (OPA) investigation of the allegations, helping guide the investigation in a way that exonerated the officers. The OPA's Auditor found the exonerations unfounded, while its civilian Review Board report (which you can read here) found that the Chief's intervention in the investigation was unethical.

There is a growing call for the City Council to intervene in this issue, review the reports, discipline the Chief, and reform Seattle's police accountability system so this kind of abuse cannot happen again. But unfortunately, instead of taking these issues seriously, the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and at least one City Councilmember (Jan Drago) are dismissing these critical reports out of hand and trying to stifle any serious discussion of reform.

Please contact your City Council members now and demand that they:

1. Read the OPA Review Board's report which documents the Police Chief's unethical behavior.
2. Support the OPA Review Board giving the City Council a briefing on the report.
3. Address problems raised in the report by considering reforms of Seattle's Police accountability process.

Please also attend a rally sponsored by the Seattle NAACP on the City Council steps at 4th and James next Thursday, June 28, at 12:15pm.

I can't stress to you enough how important it is for the City Council to receive these letters and see your presence outside their offices. Here is what a colleague of mine, who is a lawyer-activist, wrote to me about this issue:

There will not soon, if ever, be another case like [this]: one where the victim of the misconduct was brave enough and hopeful enough to actually make a complaint; where the events at issue were fully captured on videotape; where the videotape was preserved; where city, county & federal prosecutors did the right thing & notified defense lawyers of serious credibility problems about the officers involved; where a highly respected forensic video analyst analyzed the video & concluded that virtually no part of the officers' story could be true. If we cannot repudiate what happened here, we may as well give up on any pretense that we have police accountability in Seattle. A culture of impunity will be reaffirmed within SPD that it simply doesn't matter what you do as an officer -- you can be caught on videotape in flagrant untruths, and as long as the only person harmed is a criminal suspect, no one will care.

Thank you for reading this long email, and for taking any time that you can to act on this important issue. Please contact me if you have questions or need any additional information.

Trevor Griffey

PS Here are the emails for Seattle's City Councilmembers: (Make sure to thank Nick for his leadership on this issue-- he is the only one on the City Council to take a strong stand for police accountability so far)

No comments: