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7 random citizens encountered each other through protests, affinity groups, and neighbors decided to get organized as a citizen's committee with the goal of building a bridge for an open dialog with Seattle's 3 police oversight agencies: the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Community Police Commission (CPC). ​ Ting worked to back the committee's demands in police reform with data points, and suggested new ways of auditing use-of-force complaints filed against officers. The citizen committee also met with the director of OPA and the Inspector General twice a week to provide feedback on the current accountability system in place for the SPD

Research Process

Several of the members got together and conducted research into the policy space. They drafted 7 agenda items for the meetings with the oversight agencies. I produced these slides for the group after organizing the information provided to me. This is meant to set the context with the meeting participants before going into the data.

Data Reports

After exploring in City of Seattle's Open Data portal, my group and I gained a lot of insight on Seattle Police Department's accountability system. The accountability system, along with data collection on policing are all direct result of an agreement made after a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found the Seattle Police Department (SPD) had a pattern of using excessive force, and also had policies and practices could result in bias against minorities. ​We began our research using the DOJ's investigative findings. In the report, DOJ investigators analyzed SPD's 2008 and 2009 records that draws statements like:

In any given year, a minority of officers account for a disproportionate number of use of force incidents. Over the more than two-year period reviewed, 11 officers used force 15 or more times, and 31 officers used force 10 or more times. In 2010, just 20 officers accounted for 18% of all force incidents. Yet, SPD has no effective supervisory techniques to better analyze why these officers use force more than other officers, whether their uses of force are necessary, or whether any of these officers would benefit from additional use of force training.

We decided to compare the current use-of-force data against the findings from DOJ's report to see if there are significant progress made in one of the key issues in the 2011 report, that a small percentage of officers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of force-use. Here's the highlight of what we presented to the OPA during our initial meeting with their director. Please note that some context is missing since the information was delivered verbally, while presenting.

OPA's director Andrew Meyerberg provided us with a list of feedback. The main feedback on the findings would be, flagged officers might work shifts and/or precincts where there is a higher likelihood of encountering an incident where force-use might be appropriate. We committed to addressing his feedback with a model that account for uneven distribution of incidents.
A second meeting with both the OPA and the Inspector General from the OIG was scheduled after the initial meeting. OIG conducts performance audits that examine critical systems, practices, and policies within the SPD and the OPA.
The presentation below shows how we addressed the uneven distribution of force-use incidents across different times of day and locations in our presentation to the directors of those agencies. We concluded that there is likely a correlation between frequency of use-of-force reports in an officer and the officer's primary shift and patrol route. However, a two-way causality factor cannot be ruled out, repeated exposure to traumatic events could result in desensitization. OPA responded by offering a solution, for officers to be assigned to different shifts and/or locations if the officer's frequency in use-of-force reporting is determined to be high relative to officers working similar shifts and patrolling route. Meyerberg expressed interests in pursuing the solution to further understand the behavioral impact work environment has on the officers.

The second meeting, in a round-table discussion style, paralleled OIG's ongoing effort to partner with communities around Seattle. The Inspector General, Lisa Judge, invited our group to collaborate with her data analyst Mesa. Our committee was scheduled to meet twice a week with the OPA, the OIG, and Community Police Commission (CPC), the three agencies that make up the police accountability system in the City of Seattle. OPA addressed parts of our feedback to improve transparency in their investigations by setting up a complaint case dashboard that updates the progress of each complaints on a daily basis. 

The data reports generated were handed to Q13 Fox correspondent Simone Del Rosario, who has been working with one of our committee members, activist and protest leader Rashyla Levitt.

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