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Coronavirus News: West Seattle Vax Site Reopens Amid Hospitalization Surge; Council President Juarez and New Council Committees for 2022/2023; West Seattle Bridge Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS/Public Comment begins January 28; CPC/Monitor Outreach Meeting on Crisis Intervention; SPD Proud Boy Ruse on June 8, 2020; Thanks to City Employees for Winter Storm Service

Coronavirus News: West Seattle Vax Site Reopens Amid Hospitalization Surge

The City’s West Seattle vaccination clinic reopens today, January 7th, and will continue to provide Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pediatric vaccines, and boosters throughout January 2022, with capacity for 800 doses per day.  The clinic operates at Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW Seattle, WA 98126, on Fridays from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In Seattle, nearly 90% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 52% of eligible residents have received a booster dose.

Hospitalization Crisis:  Washington State is starting to experience a crisis in hospital capacity due to the fast-spreading omicron variant.  UW recently announced it is postponing elective surgeries due to the surge in coronavirus cases.  Thursday, the Washington State Medical Association urged Gov. Jay Inslee to officially declare Washington state in crisis and immediately take action to aid overwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals across the state.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for King County, warned that people without vaccine protection are at much higher risk for hospitalization and death from omicron, while milder breakthrough cases are common in folks with vaccination.  Boosters provide the best protection.

Dr. Duchin, Health Officer for King County, tweeted this advice:

Read more about staying safe from omicron: How to stay out of the hospital with Omicron here – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER.

Public Health Briefing 1/11 at 9:30AM: I’ve invited Director Dennis Worsham of Public Health – Seattle & King County to brief Council on their efforts to combat the current surge in the coronavirus pandemic.  Tune in if you’d like to learn what our local government is doing to keep residents safe, and how you can keep yourself safe as well.  Tune in Tuesday, January 11th at 9:30am at Watch Live | seattlechannel.org or Seattle Channel on your TV.

 

Council President Juarez and New Council Committees for 2022/2023

On Tuesday the Council voted Councilmember Debora Juarez as Council President for 2022 and 2023. In seconding her nomination for Council President, I read from testimony that the Council had received from Rev. Harriet Walden, Co-Chair of the Community Police Commission and Co-Founder of Mothers for Police Accountability, in support of Councilmember Juarez’s bid for the Council Presidency:

“Our beloved City of Seattle needs healing and unity and Debora Juarez is the leader we need to help Seattle heal and unite. As an Indigenous woman, with strong ties to local Tribal and Indigenous communities, it is time for a leader like Debora who can restore our relationships with each other and with the earth. It is time for others to step aside and let the Indigenous peoples of these lands be represented in City Hall and steer Seattle in a new direction.”

Consistent with the role, Council President Juarez proposed legislation to create a new committee structure for the Council for 2022 and 2023.

The legislation includes standing committee assignments, departmental oversight, meeting schedules, adjusting the Full Council meeting day from Monday to Tuesday, and leadership positions via Resolution 32037.

The complete committee structure and membership is described here.

I will continue in my role as Chair of Public Safety and Human Services, and Vice Chair of the Finance and Housing Committee. In addition. I will also serve on the Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee; the Economic Development, Technology & City Light Committee; and the Public Assets & Homelessness Committee.

I’d also like to welcome the three new elected officials were sworn in this week; here are links to their websites: Mayor Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Ann Davison, and citywide City Councilmember Sara Nelson.

 

West Seattle Bridge Update

Repair work on the West Seattle Bridge is proceeding. Here’s the most recent visual from December 29 showing the status of work:

Hyrdo-blasting work has been completed for access points to the work platforms. They will be used to apply carbon fiber wrap on the outside of the west and east spans of the bridge. In addition, work to attach rigging will hold the work platforms in place. This consists to 10 to 14-foot long metal cables through the holes in the bridge deck. Stairs and scaffolding are also being installed inside the bridge. Here’s an image of the holes in the deck:

Upcoming work includes core drilling inside the bridge at Pier 16, and installation of post-tensioning cables to strengthen the bridge’s concrete, and relocation of utility lines to make room for additional post-tensioning cables.

During the holiday break, SDOT completed the replacement study to help guide the long-term planning for when the bridge eventually needs to be replaced. Information is available at the High Bridge Replacement Study webpage, which also includes the Final Report, and Executive Summary.

The bridge repair is expected to last through the original lifespan of the bridge, roughly 2060. The bridge opened in 1984 and was designed to last 75 years.

You can sign up here to receive regular updates from SDOT about the West Seattle Bridge repair.

 

 

Sound Transit Draft EIS/Public Comment begins January 28

Sound Transit announced they will publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions on January 28. This begins a 90-day public comment period.

Here’s Sound Transit’s summary of the EIS process and how to comment.

After the public comment period, the Sound Transit board will confirm or modify the options to be considered in the Final EIS, which Sound Transit expects to be published in 2023. After publication of the Final EIS, the Board will select the project to be built.

The options studied in the Draft EIS are in the image above, which can be accessed by clicking on the “Alternatives” link at the top of Sound Transit’s website at https://wsblink.participate.online/. You can also access station area options for Delridge, Avalon, and the Alaska Junction.

Also included at the website are links for Advisory Groups; the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group next meets on January 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.; here’s a link to where you can view the meeting then.

I’ll have additional information in coming weeks but wanted to let you know this is coming up. You can sign up to receive e-mail updates about the project directly from Sound Transit here.

 

CPC/Monitor Outreach Meeting on Crisis Intervention

The Community Police Commission and Consent Decree Monitor will be collaborating on a series of community engagement meetings regarding preliminary assessments of the Seattle Police Department.

The goal of these meetings is to inform the public on overall progress of the Consent Decree, to get community input on what comes next in Seattle in police reform and how the City proceeds after the Consent Decree.

These sessions will occur on the following dates, on the following subjects:

  • Crisis Intervention: January 11, 2022
  • Stops and Detentions: February 8, 2022
  • Use of Force: March 8, 2022

The January 11 meeting on Crisis Intervention will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Here is information on how to join the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/96694242277?pwd=N2F0ekFib3R0R2dpNTQvNW9qTXlzQT09

Meeting ID: 966 9424 2277

Passcode: 948051

The Monitor has a new website at https://seattlepolicemonitor.org/ .

On the website is a December 2021 Preliminary Assessment on Crisis Intervention, the subject of the January 11 meeting. The website notes that reports on Stops and Detentions and Use of Force assessments are forthcoming.

The preliminary assessment on Crisis Intervention also summarizes previous 2016 and 2018 reports and provides a new analysis of 2019 and 2020 data.

 

SPD Proud Boy Ruse on June 8, 2020

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA)  released an investigation earlier this week into SPD’s use of a ruse during radio calls on June 8, 2020. In the ruse, officers stated members of the Proud Boys right wing extremist group were on the streets and suggested some might be carrying weapons.

This took place just hours after SPD abandoned the East Precinct, a time the Seattle Times calls “a crucial moment during 2020’s racial justice protests.”

I appreciate Mayor Harrell’s comments about the damage to public trust. I’ve heard similar concerns from constituents and share this sentiment.

Though under Washington State Law, ruses are legal, they should never be done in a manner that escalates volatile situations.  I have called for increased oversight in this press release:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold calls for increased oversight of SPD use of ruses, deception

SEATTLE Following revelations that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) faked radio calls claiming a hate group was marching through Seattle on June 8, 2020, Councilmember Lisa Herbold (Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Human Services) is calling for increased oversight of SPD’s use of deceptive tactics, or ruses.

Following a similar improper use of a ruse in 2019 that the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) said contributed to a man’s suicide, the OPA made a recommendation to provide training on the appropriate use of ruses. However, SPD only “partially implemented” that recommendation.

Now, as she continues to review the facts of this case, Councilmember Herbold is requesting that SPD and OPA immediately work together to both fully implement OPA’s 2019 recommendation and create a clear policy requiring that SPD’s use of ruses be fully documented, which has not occurred in the past.

The need for documentation is amply demonstrated by how these two ruses came to light only due to investigations by individuals and Converge Media in the 2020 case.  Clear oversight by command staff is also essential.

The report notes, in sustaining an allegation that Named Employee #1 (NE = “Named Employee” in OPA terminology):

“After reviewing all of the evidence, OPA finds that NE#1 abused the law enforcement discretion afforded to him in three respects. First, he approved and oversaw a misinformation effort without providing sufficient guidelines around what should be discussed during the transmissions. Virtually all of the officers interviewed by OPA said that they were never told what to say or not say, including mentioning the Proud Boys. The failure to provide sufficient safeguards resulted in the use of misinformation that was problematic, as discussed more fully below.

Second, NE#1 did not ensure that the effort was appropriately supervised. While this was in part NE#2’s fault, he was, in turn, supervised by NE#1, who ultimately controlled the effort. OPA finds this to be particularly significant as several of the officers said that they had never engaged in this type of misinformation effort before and did not know what they were doing – or what they were expected to do.”

The findings state that Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations did not approve the ruse, but he was aware of the ruse, but unaware of the use of the Proud Boys in the ruse, and didn’t engage in oversight. I am concerned that there are no findings for any management actions in the OPA report regarding what I consider to be an additional failure of oversight.

In addition, the report finds lack of documentation, with no management action recommendation from OPA for how documentation should be handled in the future. This is why I have called for the change in policy as referenced in the press release above.

“Third, NE#1 did not cause any of the misinformation effort to be documented. For example, there was no after-action report or other paperwork indicating what was done and why. This made it extremely difficult for OPA to reconstruct the events after the fact. Similarly, the recordings of the transmissions were not recorded by SPD. While perhaps this was not within NE#1’s purview, it still goes to an overall lack of documentation of the effort. But for the journalist providing the recordings to OPA and the recordings being preserved by a website, no evidence would have existed to assist in this investigation.”

The CPC has talked about the need to address SPD’s use of ruses during their public meetings last year.

There’s a bigger picture here that is also important. The report notes, “Even more problematic was the use of the Proud Boys as part of the misinformation effort.”

It later notes:

“…the use of the Proud Boys when it was known that the transmissions would be monitored took a volatile situation and made it even more so. It was reasonably foreseeable to believe that the demonstrators would be afraid and concerned that the Proud Boys – some of whom were said to be open-carrying – would come to CHAZ/CHOP. It was also reasonably foreseeable to believe that this could cause demonstrators within the zone to take steps to arm and defend themselves. Indeed, over the past several years, there had been multiple physical conflicts – some fatal in other cities – between left and right-leaning protestors.

This conclusion is not altered by the fact that, at least based on CM#1’s Facebook Live video, there was an intent among some of the individuals within CHAZ/CHOP to arm themselves and guard the barricade before the misinformation concerning the Proud Boys was known to them. In OPA’s perspective, it is still the case that discussing the Proud Boys, that they were armed, and that they may be moving in the direction of CHAZ/CHOP improperly added fuel to the fire and could have had dire results.”

After the ruse was broadcast, word spread rapidly.  I heard from constituents the evening of June 8, 2020 who were alarmed about the potential presence of members of the Proud Boys group, given their reputation for carrying weapons, as the ruse stated. I texted then Chief Best that evening.

She and I spoke directly and my recollection is that Chief Best’s response was that I should be more skeptical of what I hear reported in the media. I assumed by her response that she had confirmed that there was no Proud Boy presence in Seattle that night. The SPD scanner reports referenced in my text were not scanner recordings that I heard myself so I was unable to assert in my conversation with Chief Best that Proud Boy presence was being reported by SPD themselves.

Since that time, members of the Proud Boys have been implicated in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol just over one year ago, and indents of violence in Portland.

Regarding the use of ruses generally, SPD Policy 5.001 Standards and Duties Section 11. Employees Will Be Truthful and Complete in All Communications lists three exceptions, as noted below:

  1. Employees Will Be Truthful and Complete in All Communication

Exception: Employees may use deception for a specific and lawful purpose in certain circumstances, when:

– There is an exigent threat to life safety or public safety

– It is necessary due to the nature of the employee’s assignment

– There is a need to acquire information for a criminal investigation

I have invited OPA Director Myerberg to present his findings to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting next Tuesday.

 

Thanks to City Employees for Winter Storm Service

A heartfelt “thank you!” to the more than 170 City employees who stepped up to serve during last week’s winter storm.   City employees volunteered to be reassigned to winter storm duty between December 24th and January 3rd, protecting people who were struggling to survive unsheltered.

Of course, none of this lifesaving work would have been possible without the many experienced service providers who offer shelter and connections to housing year round, and have been serving on the frontlines of the pandemic for almost two years now.  My heartfelt thanks to everyone who answered the call.

For more information visit: Human Interests – Seattle Human Services news and events.

Staff who were reassigned temporarily received incentive pay in addition to regular compensation.

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