Seattle to host 16th annual NACOLE conference

With a conference theme of “Promoting Excellence” in both law enforcement and civilian oversight, Seattle is honored to host the 16th annual conference of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) next week at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, September 20 through 23.

NACOLE was founded in 1995 to help communities promote accountability and transparency in law enforcement through civilian oversight.  In addition to providing educational resources and technical assistance to civilian oversight practitioners, NACOLE hosts a yearly conference to bring together scholars, oversight professionals, law enforcement personnel, and civic leaders.

Kathryn Olson, Director of the Seattle Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), is on the NACOLE Board and is the Chair of the Conference Planning Committee.  Kathryn has been working with NACOLE members, the OPA Auditor and OPA Review Board, the Seattle Police Department, representatives from the Mayor’s office and City Council and many community members to organize this event. 

Over 225 people from around the U.S. and a number of other countries have registered for the conference and it promises to be an informative and thought-provoking event.  Speakers and attendees include both civilians and law enforcement representatives.

Seattle has a unique civilian oversight system that incorporates aspects of the investigative, auditing and board models through the work of the OPA, OPA Auditor and OPA Review Board. This three-prong system offers checks and balances to ensure that complaints of police misconduct and police practices are thoroughly reviewed, with the goal of enhancing respect and trust between the police and Seattle community.  OPA Director Kathryn Olson notes, “As we network with conference attendees, we will be looking for ways to enhance our process and look forward to learning about best practices in other jurisdictions.” 

Seattle Police Chief John Diaz says, “Effective police oversight is integral to earning and maintaining the trust of all citizens.  As police chief, I am committed to a police accountability process that is transparent, accessible to all and fair in its application.”

Chief Diaz and Councilmember Tim Burgess will provide opening remarks on Monday morning.  Monday’s featured speaker is Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. 

Isabel Garcia from Derechos Humanos, a human rights organization in Arizona, will discuss immigration and law enforcement issues at the Wednesday luncheon.  The Seattle Police Foundation is generously sponsoring a reception for conference attendees on Wednesday night.

Other presentations will cover topics including police response to the mentally ill, criminal investigations of officers, workplace retaliation, policing mass protests, in-custody deaths, and discipline alternatives.  Advanced Interactive Systems is providing a Shoot/Don’t Shoot training simulator.

In lieu of traditional speaker gifts for presenters at the conference, a donation will be made by NACOLE to the Seattle Downtown Emergency Services Center. In line with Chief Diaz’s renewed commitment to building community relationships, OPA provided conference scholarships to people concerned about oversight issues in Seattle including leaders and representatives of the African American, Native American, Latino, immigrant rights and youth communities.

This conference is open to the public.  Attendance does require registration.  The conference fee is waived for members of the media.  To register, visit www.nacole.org and click on the Annual Conference link.