Message to the community

MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY FROM POLICE CHIEF JOHN DIAZ

This has been a difficult year for the men and women of our department and the Seattle community.  As the anniversary of the death of John T. Williams approaches, I wanted to communicate directly to those we serve what the Seattle Police Department has done to act on the feedback we have received.  I have attended many meetings and many of you have shared your perspectives with me, for which I am grateful.  I want you to know that I have listened and made a commitment that the department would examine our training practices and prioritize Community Outreach.

I have been with this Department over 30 years, and have seen every day the incredible work that the men and women of the Seattle Police Department perform on a daily basis.  I know that the Seattle Police Department is a great police agency, but I have not ignored the areas where we could improve or have fallen short.  As this following update will show, we have already achieved a great deal in addressing many of these areas of concern.  We are also currently still undergoing a Department of Justice review.  As I have stated before I welcome the chance for an independent review – even the best police department can benefit from this, especially if the result is an increase in public trust.

Throughout the last year, the department also received a tremendous amount of support from people in the Seattle community who went out of their way to express how much they appreciate the work of our employees. Our Department is truly part of the community and we are here to serve the public.  We remain as always, dedicated to fighting crime, reducing fear and building community.   

TRAINING

Race and Social Justice Training – Almost 1800 sworn and civilian employees have been through “Perspectives in Profiling” training.  All members of management (and others) have attended “RACE, the Power of an Illusion” training.

First-line Supervisor Training – All Sergeants are attending a newly revised supervisor’s training course.

Training to deal with the Mentally Ill – Over 366 officers have been through Crisis Intervention Training.

Less Lethal Training – 405 officers and detectives are equipped with a Taser.

Justice Based Policing Initiative – We are working with the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission to implement training that focuses on effective communication – Listening with Equity and Dignity.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Living Room Conversations – We just launched this new project and already conducted seven conversations in the community.

Donut Dialogues – We conducted 10 of these youth-oriented forums in the past year.

Community Meetings – Members of the Seattle Police Department attended hundreds of community meeting this past year across all communities and neighborhoods.

Demographic Advisory Councils – We remain committed to our Demographic Advisory Councils.  We meet with them regularly.  In addition, we have reinstituted the Citywide Advisory Council.

Community Police Academy – 90 participants graduated from a 10-week course where they learned about the Seattle Police Department and modern law enforcement.

Seattle Police Employees Charity Holiday Fund – Donated a total of $63,000 to Seattle area charities.

National Night Out Against Crime 2011 – A record 1,327 registered celebrations.  We attended hundreds of these events. 

OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILTY

Oversight – The Seattle Police Department has some of the most robust police oversight in our region, if not the country.  The Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), created in 1999, was the beneficiary of a dramatic overhaul in January of 2008.  After seven months of work, the 2007 Police Accountability Review Panel, chaired by retired Judge Terrence Carroll released its final report. The panel provided then Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels with 29 specific recommendations for enhancing and strengthening the police accountability system in the following four areas: 

• Accountability & Public Confidence

• Independence

• Professional Conduct

• Transparency

All 29 recommendations were adopted by the Police Department and implemented in mid-2008.  The panel members were: Judge Terrence A. Carroll, ret., chair; Bob Boruchowitz, vice chair; Jenny A. Durkan; Lorena González; Pramila Jayapal; Gary Locke; Hubert G. Locke; Judith Krebs; Mike McKay; Norman B. Rice; and Jennifer Shaw.  Additional oversight includes a seven-member OPA Review Board and an OPA Auditor. 

Complaint Investigations – Several of the high profile cases over the past year involved criminal allegations, requiring that OPA coordinate its administrative investigation around special timelines and other procedures involved.  OPA’s investigation into each of these cases was done expeditiously and thoroughly, keeping in mind the public’s interest in how these cases would be resolved internally. Several high profile cases have been resolved while others are pending.  There are some that will say that I have been too severe, while others will say that I have been too lenient.  Ultimately, the final word on discipline lies with me.  It is my duty to be fair and objective in every case that comes before me.

Education Based Discipline – OPA continues to work to identify opportunities for training and mentoring of employees.  Though serious misconduct must be addressed with discipline, OPA complaints more often point to training gaps.  Thus, in 2010, more complaints were referred at the outset or after an investigation for handling by a supervisor, who can work closely with an employee to correct performance issues.  OPA still monitors cases handled by supervisors.

Policy and Training Recommendations – OPA has worked on implementing a variety of policy and training recommendations such as those reported in December 2010 on recommendations and SPD response on Use of Force, De-Escalation and Respectful Policing.  Over the past year, OPA participated in a number of initiatives, including a community presentation of the Perspectives in Profiling training, First-line Supervisor Training, and development of the Justice Based Policing curriculum.

Restorative Circles – OPA does regular outreach, but of particular interest this past year is work done with Native American communities in both training and relationship building.  OPA Director Kathryn Olson coordinated with counsel for the family of the late John T. Williams to arrange meetings between family members, myself and other members of the command staff in restorative circles to address concerns and help restore a sense of trust in the police by the Williams family.

NACOLE – The 2010 NACOLE Conference was held in Seattle last September in the wake of several high profile events.  OPA paid for registration for a number of community representatives to attend, so they could network with others interested in civilian oversight and learn first-hand best practices followed by law enforcement throughout the country.  Director Olson was elected president of NACOLE.

METRICS

Priority 1 Call Response Time – Through June, response time averaged 6.3 minutes, which exceeds the Neighborhood Policing Plan goal of 7 minutes.  Since 2008, we have had a 12.5% improvement in Priority 1 response time.

Sworn Staffing – While the number of overall sworn positions decreased from 1,348 in July of 2010 to 1,313 in late June 2011, the number of uniformed patrol officers actually assigned to the five precincts has increased from 684 to 693.

Service Quality Surveys – Surveys of our 911 callers have been conducted by a professional polling firm since 2006.  On our last survey, we received ratings on four items that were our highest ever over the course of 15 surveys.  The ratings are based on a 5 point scale where “5” is the highest score. 

  • SPD personnel are professional and courteous.                                  – 4.47
  • Department personnel are available when you need them.                – 4.15
  • The officer who responded was professional and courteous.              – 4.72
  • The officer who responded provided the information I needed.           – 4.40

Crime – Through midyear, Major Crimes are down 11% citywide when compared with the first six months of 2010.  This continues the downward crime trend that occurred citywide in 2010. Through June of 2011, Violent Crime is down 1% compared with the same time period in 2010, with homicides, rapes and robberies trending down and only aggravated assaults showing an increase.  Property Crimes are down 12% across the city at midyear 2011, when compared with the same time period in 2010. Vehicle thefts and larceny/thefts are down by double-digits and burglaries are up slightly. 

ACHIEVEMENTS

Disruption of Seattle terror plot – Our detectives worked with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to detect and foil a plot intended to inflict mass casualties at a Seattle Military Processing Center.

Operation Beauty and The Boost – The department conducted an undercover investigation into an extensive and organized retail theft crime ring in and around the City of Seattle. North Seattle-area stores alone had reported losses of over $1.5 million. Ultimately, detectives recovered a large amount of evidence and requested charges of: Leading Organized Crime, Trafficking in Stolen Property and Organized Retail Theft. 

DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY (DARPA) – The Seattle Police Department was selected along with the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol and the San Francisco Police Department to work with DARPA, a Pentagon research and development ‘think-tank’, as they create a training module designed to improve the communications skills of members of our Armed Forces.  The project is titled Strategic Social Interaction Modules (SSIM) – “Good Stranger”.  Says DARPA of the Seattle Police Department, “SPD and its training academy are recognized throughout the national law enforcement community as “gold standards.”

Neighborhood Viewpoint – In June 2010, the Department began its Neighborhood View Point (NVP) project.  The project involves brief, one-on-one interviews of residents and neighborhood businesses by officers.  The purpose of the project is to learn what residents regard as the most pressing concerns in their neighborhoods.

Hot Spot Policing – We are implementing “Hot Spot Policing”.  This entails utilizing the latest crime data to deploy our resources more effectively, thereby having the greatest impact on crime.  This program complements our existing Neighborhood Policing Program.

Silent War Campaign Partnership – We partnered with the Silent War Campaign in the hopes of generating information needed to solve the 2009 murder of Tyrone Love.

Using Twitter to Recover Stolen Cars – In December of last year, we launched “GetYourCarBack” on Twitter to heighten Auto Theft awareness and to offer Seattle residents a tool that enables them to identify stolen vehicles.  Auto Theft is down 16% as of June.