Seattle Office of Inspector General (OIG) Releases Recommendations for Improving  Response to Protests by Police

By Naya Wiezel

SEATTLE, WA – A series of recommendations for improving the response by police to protests was released this week by the Seattle Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding the response to protests in Seattle in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

The Sentinel Event Review panel, which includes community members and representatives from the Seattle Police Dept., focused on how the protests in Seattle escalated from a peaceful demonstration protected by the First Amendment to violence.

The OIG categorized the protests into five categories, or “waves.” As of now, the OIG has only released reports on the first of those three waves. The events between May 29 and June 1, 2020, are being referred to as “Wave 1” and the events between June 8 and July 1, 2020, are being referred to as “Wave 3.”

When analyzing “Wave 3” of the protests, the Sentinel Event Review focused primarily on the community, by bringing together a diverse group of citizens and representatives from the police Dept.

This review was OIG and facilitated by the Quattrone Center, a national research and policy hub created to catalyze long term structural improvements to the US criminal justice system. Panel deliberations were facilitated by PointOneNorth Consulting.

John F. Hollway, an Executive Director of the Quattrone Center, emphasized the importance of this panel in understanding the community at a deeper level and improving the Police Dept. in the future.

Hollway said, “By bringing together a diverse group of community members and Seattle Police Dept. officers at all levels of the department the SER has enabled a deeper understanding of community needs and provides a road map of practical recommendations to improve SPD’s response to protests that are implementable by SPD and will better serve the community.

He added, “We’ve seen this process heal rifts in other communities caused by undesired outcomes in criminal justice, and OIG and SPD should be commended for their dedication to this process.”

The panel was able to identify 34 recommendations that fall into six categories: Community Legitimacy, Situational Awareness, Communication, Tactics, Decision Making and Planning.

Community Legitimacy addresses the importance of the Police Dept. and the city to provide protection for its citizens, despite anger or backlash from the community, according to Hollway.

He noted, similarly, Situational Awareness addresses the need for the Police Dept. to change their mindset during protests to focus more on the safety of the people and negative outcomes.

Communication, the report notes, addresses the importance of improving the Police Dept.’s ability to communicate with the community and protestors. Additionally, Tactics emphasizes a plan of improving tactics during events to promote trust in the Police Dept.

Decision Making addresses ensuring transparency and accountability in the Police Dept. and city officials, the report said, adding Planning addresses establishing a protocol to address protests or emergencies, in the event that public or city services are unavailable.

Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge commented on the importance of creating “systemic change in policing through dialogue and mutual understanding.”

The OIG judge added the panel learned “what can happen when government abdicates its role in providing safety and critical services; the importance of communication—between the city and community, internally between SPD leadership and officers, and between city department; the dangers of siloed decision-making and planning; and the importance of truthfulness and transparency with community.” 

About The Author

Naya Wiezel is a 3rd year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Affairs. She has a passion for political activism and is a part of social justice groups on campus. She plans on attending law school after completing her undergraduate studies and hopes to go into entertainment law.

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