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Audit on SPD Public Disclosure Process Highlights Need for Improvement, Additional Resources

City of Seattle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 3/18/2015

Audit on SPD Public Disclosure Process Highlights Need for Improvement, Additional Resources

SEATTLE – The City Auditor unveiled a comprehensive audit of the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) process for handling Public Disclosure Requests today. The audit, requested by the City Council, details the current public disclosure request process, and highlights the need for additional staff, new software to handle requests, improved communication with requesters, among other recommendations.

In 2014, 2/3rds (or nearly 4,700) of all Public Disclosure Requests to City departments were directed at the Seattle Police Department, and the Auditor found requests have been becoming increasingly complex and involve advances in new technology. SPD public record requests have also increased by over 35 percent in the last six years. The significant gaps in resources and systems that SPD uses to process public records requests has hindered SPD’s ability to ensure accurate and timely responses. 

“Our actions must demonstrate our commitment to accountability and transparency in order to foster public trust,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “Moving forward, I am encouraged by the actions and mindset of SPD. SPD has already implemented a number of recommendations and worked collaboratively with the Auditor to come up with solutions. SPD has shown its commitment to transparency, as the Washington Coalition for Open Government recently honored the work of Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers for working with the public on a reasonable solution for body camera videos.”

The Auditor made a total of 13 recommendations for how to improve public disclosure processes, detailed in the audit report

“I support the Auditor’s recommendations and providing the necessary resources for continuing improvements in SPD’s Public Disclosure processes,” added Councilmember Harrell. “The Committee will closely monitor the follow through of the Auditor’s recommendations.”

The full “Audit of the Seattle Police Department Public Disclosure Process” can be viewed here. The City Auditor’s office will present their findings at the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee today at 2 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

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