Does the OPD need a citizen review board?

I'm just beginning to think about this issue based on some anecdotes that I've heard recently. I'm collecting some links here to educate myself and facilitate discussion.

policeaccountability.org
National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement
ACLU
Vera Institute
British Police Complaints Authority
The Canadian Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement

Does any one have any other sites that would be helpful? Has anyone had experience with the OPD that would have benefited by a citizen review?

Here's Seattle's Police Chief talking about citizen oversight (thanks Sarah):



Evidence shows that police ha

Evidence shows that police have responded positively to trainings, and have been more responsible with their tasers. It was a group of citizens and cops working together that made that happen.

One of CopWatchs' goals is to educate people of their rights in situations where they are dealing with cops. So they continue to make flyers available to people showing all of the downtown cops' names and photos. There is nothing wrong with this in my eyes, I think if anything it puts a name to a face, which helps develop a sense of personalism as well as accountability.

Remember one of Olympia Copwa

Remember one of Olympia Copwatch's own was the cop killer in Northern California. The same guy that said he planned to kill an Oly cop but felt he would get more bang for the buck in California. So whatever good Drew does, I have to wonder what was preached by the local copwatch.

Sarah, as for the data on tasers, the Olympian, I believe, did an article and taser use was up, but injuries to bad guys and cops were down. Sounds like the tasers are working.

Andrew (Mikel / McRae) was NO

Andrew (Mikel / McRae) was NOT a Copwatch member. This is a myth. He never said he was Copwatch (I've looked at his indymedia postings) and the Olympian never said he was Copwatch (I've looked at their archives). I never met the man. Many people within the OPD believe that he was a copwatcher, including the chief. They have reasons they want to believe it, but no direct evidence that any will show me. The name of the organization is CopWatch, not CopKill, and not CopHate. Of all the people who were Copwatching at the time he murdered Officer David Mobilio in California, only one remembered meeting him - and that was in a class at TESC. Prior to TESC, Andrew was an Army Ranger. This might have a bit more to do with his actions than his attendance at TESC. Copwatch began regular meetings (after a hiatus) around the time of the killing of Officer Mobilio because a man was killed here, too on the same day - and just 11 hours earlier in Olympia. That man was killed by Olympia Police Officer Jeffrey Jordan. His name was Stephen Edwards, and he was killed by four jolts of a TASER in the parking lot of Bayview Thriftway. Andrew was already in California and did not know about the incident at that time (no one was aware of it in the news media until the next morning, after Officer Mobilio's murder in the early hours of the morning, 3am if memory serves me).

An honest question: While the

An honest question: While the Ranger training would play a much bigger, if not the entire, role in Mr. Mobilio's physical training, how much influence do you think TESC had (if any) on what was going on in Mr. Mobilio's head?

Among some in the student population there is an almost militant attitude against anyone in opposition.

Mr Mobilio's training was in

Mr Mobilio's training was in Criminal Justice, as far as I know - he was the victim of the murder. Mr Mikel (also known as McRae) was the killer. He was convicted, if memory serves. TESC is not unique in the deeply held and militant attitides of some of its students. I have met many of these types in universities, high schools, and bars across this country. Met a few out hunting in the woods, hanging out at field parties, and shopping at Wal Mart, too. What might concern you is the liberal / radical slant that TESC might represent, in which case I'd ask you to challenge directly the ideologies in question, or the acts in question, rather than paint the school itself with the broad brush. I've never gone to TESC, though I know many who do and many more who did. 99% of the graduates and 80% of the current students I know are not even political radicals. I am one, so I have a certain bias in the judging of such things. Radical just means "get to the root."

That said, I have to say that what Andrew Mikel did was stupid. I've wondered more than once whether someone put him up to trying to make the anti-globalization movement look bad (he posted that he incorporated, therefore he would be immune from prosecution much as corporate directors are when they release toxic clouds of gas above a village like Bhopal.) That "reasoning" is not like the average TESC student that I've spoken to. And the people I have met who knew him (since then) all said he was off his rocker and a loner. One said he was caught out at the campus "sneaking around" and getting up on roofs and stuff. He's alive, I guess you could write to him and ask. He certainly did not "get to the root" of the issues he was grappling with.

To the best of my knowledge,

To the best of my knowledge, Olympia Copwatch is only adversarial in the face of wrongdoing; such as excessive taser use or discrimination. This seems to me to be an appropriate time to be adversarial, not to the cops themselves, but towards the behavior. Better still, the culture that creates that behavior.

I like the way you phrase thi

I like the way you phrase this, that the focus can be on behavior and the culture that creates that behavior.

CopWatch used to have a progr

CopWatch used to have a program on TCTV. It's been so long since I've seen it aired I can't really remember the content but, I do seem to remember the show airing individual pictures of each officer working at OPD.

Not exactly avoiding the "Us v. Them" scenario, in my opinion.

Instead of setting up adversa

Instead of setting up adversarial elements like "oversight" and "copwatch," why don't we simply work in conjunction with and daily engage citizens with Olympia's uniformed law enforcement? Be a part of protecting our society instead of setting up dueling organizations.

That way, if something is wrong or needs addressing, the change can happen amongst people who know and respect each other.

The alternative is to have an Us vs. Them attitude that makes for confusion, distrust, and wasted energy.

I do engage in many direct an

I do engage in many direct and positive ways with the Olympia Police Department and with individual officers in the department. Lt Pryde has invited me to speak before his class at St Martin's so that his class can have a look at what we advocate directly, for themselves. Jeff Jordan and I have spoken at some length about a variety of issues, and while we disagree, we did so without violating any noise ordinances. My reviews of police records of use of force involve many interactions with Jeanelle Kirry and Leesa Judkins at the OPD front office, and their polite and professional demeanor has been delightful throughout our working relationship. We do sometimes disagree, but we do so without hating each other. I've lodged my own complaint about Officer Malone, had a long interview with Lt Bill Wilson, and had two of my three charges sustained by his investigation. I've also seen complaint cases of other Copwatchers fall on deaf ears.

TASER use dropped dramatically a year ago, because the International Association of Chiefs of Police ordered (suggested) a review of policy, and the Chief here did that review and suggested changes. No policy changes were documented (I asked). But the immediate result was a dramatic (3/4) drop in the number of TASER cases. Mostly, the use of TASERs after Feb 2005 have been in shot mode, for threats against officers. Prior to that, many more were contact mode, against noncompliant individuals. That change is part of what we need, and a huge improvement. /p p The adversarial nature of the Just Us system predates my life, and that of my mother, grandmother, etc. I didn't invent it, and I can't overturn it. Since it is what we have, I will use it without apology. If you don't want oppositional reform of policing, you're not going to get any reform of policing. Even chiefs to want reform have to fight the police unions.

The impression I got from lis

The impression I got from listening to the Seattle police chief is that the various citizen and mayor appointed groups/individuals were not in adversarial positions with each other and with law enforcement.

So there are models out there of groups whose practice is to work with law enforcement and citizens. I think the community at large can benefit from this. Doesn't at all have to be adversarial, could have the goal of cooperation.

I would rather hear what a co

I would rather hear what a cop on the street has to say than someone sitting behind a desk.

Sort of like the military. If you want to gauge how people are actually feeling, you ask the people on the ground in the situation, not someone who is more or less there to tow the line.

Remember, a police chief has to answer to a City Council. That's why I stated before that a Sheriff's Department answers directly to the people through the ballot box.

We have a really great person

We have a really great person, Drew Hendricks-Olympia Copwatch, he helped bring taser use down over the last year by holding police accountable. Any efforts to create a citizen review would want to go through him, he's been doing it for awhile now.

I saw the username "Drew Hend

I saw the username "Drew Hendricks" a few months ago, so I assume this is the same person.

He's a registered OlyBlog member, I just haven't seen any commentary.

Then again, there's a lot of registered people who I haven't seen comment.

Portland has a really good gr

Portland has a really good group -- Portland CopWatch -- that's been working on the issue of police accountasbilty for a number of years.

I think people tend to misuse

I think people tend to misuse the word "widespread" in any profession. As mentioned in the interview, the SPD has nearly 1,900 employees. For anything to be widespread, a lot more than a handful of (or even a dozen) employees would need to be participating.

Hopefully by Citizen Review we're talking review and not micromanaging.

Of course, the Sheriff's Department already has citizen review: the ballot box.

Now we're at the end and this last one is pretty funny. I always think it's hilarious when people complain about a police officer being "rude." I mean, c'mon, are you that soft?

KUOW interviewed the police c

KUOW interviewed the police chief of Seattle this morning and they discussed citizen oversight. Apparently Seattle has more citizen oversight than any place else. The Chief listed several types of citizen and independent oversight that they have.

I believe all police departments should have abundant citizen oversight.

Scroll down on this Weekday page for link to that interview with Chief Gil Kerlikowske, they discussed other police and community business too. Sounds like Seattle may be a great model and resource for this.

Seattle also uses lots of mediation between police and community members.

Also, the Seattle Mayor's Office even has on their web site monthly reports of commendations and complaints about the police, this done by the Office of Professional Accountability in Seattle.