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Seattle Police Department

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, center, speaks as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, and Deputy Police Chief Adrian Diaz, right, look on during a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Four of the region’s largest police agencies will see big changes in the near future.

Seattle cops dismantle 'occupied' zone, arrest more than 30

Jul 1, 2020
Protesters stand holding up their arms in front of a road blocked by police in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone early Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Seattle. Police in Seattle have torn down demonstrators' tents in the city's occupied protest zone.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle police turned out in force early Wednesday at the city's “occupied” protest zone, tore down demonstrators' encampments and used bicycles to herd the protesters after the mayor ordered the area cleared following two fatal shootings in less than two weeks.

Jennifer Wing

Some small businesses and nonprofits located in Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, are not only worried about their financial futures, but also the future of the neighborhood as a whole.

KNKX checked in with three businesses and two nonprofits. While many were willing to talk, they would only talk candidly if they could remain anonymous.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, surveys downtown Seattle with Police Chief Carmen Best on Sunday, May 31, 2020, following protests the night before.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Calls continue to defund police in Seattle, following weeks of protests over police brutality and racism sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has refused to cut the police budget by 50 percent. But, she says, for bigger change you have to look beyond the budget. KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick talked more about this with Durkan.

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson stood alongside a score of families Thursday morning, demanding justice for a long list of Black men and women whose lives were taken by police officers, both here and across the country.

People work to dry off large letters that read "Black Lives Matter" painted on a street near Cal Anderson Park, Thursday, June 11, 2020, inside what is being called the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Just a few days ago, parts of Seattle were choked by tear gas, but with the Seattle Police Department’s apparent abandonment of its East Precinct on Monday, what has come to be called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) has grown over a few blocks in the neighborhood.

Protesters have been gathering in Seattle daily since last weekend, to protest police brutality. During those demonstrations, police have been accused of using tear gas to clear crowds.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


The Seattle City Council grilled Police Chief Carmen Best on Wednesday afternoon over the conduct of officers during weeklong protests. Often late at night, police were dispersing crowds with tear gas and flash-bang grenades.

 

Critics said there appeared to be little effort to de-escalate the situation in ways that had been done in the past. Council member Lisa Herbold, who chairs the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee, told Best she wanted answers.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the City of Seattle is partially out of compliance with court ordered reform of its police department. U.S. District Judge James Robart said the city has a ways to go in terms of accountability, despite improvement in other areas.

Family members of Iosia Faletogo during a Jan. 4 press conference
Dorothy Edwards / Crosscut

The Seattle Police Department has handed over a criminal investigation of one of its officers to the Washington State Patrol. The case is centered on an officer-involved shooting on New Year's Eve that left 36-year-old Iosia Faletogo dead.

A man who was protesting with groups in opposition to a rally held by Patriot Prayer and other groups supporting gun rights is arrested by Seattle Police officers during the rally, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, near City Hall in Seattle.
Ted Warren / AP

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m. Tuesday: The Seattle City Council voted 8-1 to approve the new police contract, following a contentious meeting with a packed council chambers. 

Manuel Valdes / AP

The Seattle Police Department is outfitting its first group of officers with body cameras starting this week.

KOMO-TV reports that about a dozen officers in the city's bike squad will begin wearing the devices Thursday. The officers were assigned cameras and went through training with them on Tuesday.

Paula Wissel

Police reform in Seattle isn’t happening quickly enough for some community groups in the city. The police department has been under a federal court order to overcome racially biased policing.

Seattle Police Department

 

One of Amazon's top executives is walking away from the corporate world to join the payroll at the Seattle Police Department. The agency is thrilled to have someone join its upper ranks  who does not come from law enforcement.

Greg Russell, an outgoing Vice President at Amazon's who oversaw the company's corporate applications, will be the Seattle Police Department’s new Chief Information Officer. Russell was one of more than 200 applicants for the newly created position.

 

Seattle Police Department

Seattle police will soon have new uniforms and a pilot project on body cameras is about to begin.

The two-tone light and dark blue uniform will be replaced with a solid dark blue outfit, which will also bear an updated patch.

Paula Wissel

As police departments across the country struggle with how to be transparent, police in Seattle are looking to get help with this issue from local digital activists. A records request from a young programmer led to Seattle police trying to accomplish something no other department has been able to do.

Paula Wissel

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Ed Ronco

The Seattle Police Department’s former interim chief Jim Pugel will take over as second-in-command to King County Sheriff John Urquhart, the sheriff announced Monday.

Pugel was handpicked by Urquhart, who said he only spoke to Pugel about the job.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council has confirmed Kathleen O’Toole as the first female chief of the Seattle Police Department.

With an 8-to-1 vote Monday, the council approved Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s nomination. Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissent vote.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has nominated former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole as new chief of the Seattle Police Department. 

If confirmed by the Seattle City Council, O’Toole would be the department’s first female chief.

Murray has said he wants someone who can “reform and change the culture” on the force and “restore the respect of the community.”

"We can be a national model for urban policing, and Kathleen O'Toole is the right choice to lead us there," Murray said Monday. 

Ryan Healy / Flickr

A committee searching for Seattle’s next police chief has handed three names to Mayor Ed Murray. The finalists are Elk Grove, California police chief Robert Lehner, Mesa, Arizona chief Frank Milstead and former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole. Committee co-chair Ron Sims said each candidate is a “change agent,” who clears a very high bar set by the mayor.

“They don’t make people like he just demanded that we meet. Where are they? But we found them. And I think the public will be incredibly well served by any of these three,” Sims said.

zeraien / Flickr

Following a decision by the Seattle City Council this week, the Seattle Police Department will soon use facial recognition software. 

The ACLU of Washington doesn't think the move will encroach on citizens' rights, but privacy advocates, including Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, aren’t fond of the new policy.

zeraien / Flickr

The Seattle Police Department has made “significant process” in an effort to reform a culture of excessive use of force and racially-biased policing, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said on Tuesday.

“We now have the building blocks to have significant longstanding reform,” said Durkan during a news conference held following a meeting with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels.

Paula Wissel

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has appointed retired assistant police chief Harry Bailey as the new interim chief for the Seattle Police Department.

Murray said Bailey, a 35-year veteran of the force who retired in 2007, will help implement the court-ordered consent decree while the hiring process for a permanent chief moves forward.

JBLM PAO

Seattle is stepping up its police presence for tomorrow’s Rock and Roll Marathon in the wake of the Boston bombings two months ago. Twenty-thousand runners are expected along a course that snakes through downtown, south along Lake Washington and over to Mercer Island and back.

Renee Witt is a Seattle Police Department detective. She says there will be bomb-sniffing dogs and police on bicycles. And the police department requests that spectators take certain precautions.

That Hardford Guy / Flickr

An annual march to support legalization of marijuana will take to Seattle streets Saturday. The Cannabis Freedom March will feature a mock funeral procession for cannabis prohibition, complete with a hearse. Organizers say the time has come to lay anti-marijuana laws to rest.

“2013 is the year to really push,” said organizer Sharon Whitson with Hempfest. “We have legalized cannabis in Colorado, and here in Washington state. We have a number of other states seriously looking at it. And a few states, over the course of this year, have legalized medicinal cannabis, as well.”

zeraien / Flickr

The Seattle Police Department is loosening its rules on marijuana use and tattoos for new officer recruits.

The department used to require that those seeking to join the force not have used pot in the past three years, and not more than 25 times in all. But last fall Washington voters legalized marijuana for personal use by adults, and Mayor Mike McGinn says the department should ease up.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Seattle police said they’re continuing to investigate crimes committed in the course of an unruly May Day demonstration, but that they’re proud of how officers handled themselves.

Capt. Chris Fowler said Seattle police incorporated some important lessons from last year’s May Day protests. They had much longer to plan this year, even treating a small March 15 protest as a “rehearsal.” 

Tom Harpel / Flickr

The court-appointed watch dog monitoring the Seattle Police Department has completed his first report on the department's progress, and the report paints a picture of a police force moving unevenly toward reform.

Merrick Bobb and his team's job is to make sure police follow the plan to end excessive use of force and racially-biased policing.

Manuel Valdes / Associated Press

At a recent scene of a fight on Seattle's waterfront, most of the gawkers weren't looking at the handcuffed and yelling suspect or the bloodied victim. Instead, their attention and cameras were directed at a fully restored 1970 Plymouth Satellite police cruiser.

It's the common reaction to the vehicle driven by 30-year-veteran Officer Jim Ritter. By his count, the Plymouth has caused at least three fender-benders. 

Canadian Pacific / Flickr

Seattle's new interim police chief says that despite some turmoil at the outset, an agreement with the Justice Department is already improving his department's operations.

Chief Jim Pugel was picked to fill in after John Diaz retired this week. Pugel acknowledges that he and many others in the police department were upset when DOJ investigators determined in late 2011 that Seattle police had a problem with the unconstitutional use of force. 

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