Liveblogging the Police Chief Forum
The grey-haired old lady sitting in the row in front of me at the SPD police chief public forum last night was chatting on her cell phone while typing into her Blackberry. I didn't plan ahead far enough to bring my laptop along, and my cell phone was trapped somewhere in the folds of my unmade bed where I tossed it after snoozing the alarm and forgot about it. So I scribbled notes in an old journal, which I will now use to file a story in time for the morning edition, if we had one of those. I imagine this is how they reported back in 1996 (Shhh, don't tell Seattle Weekly). But at least I wasn't like that guy from some TV news station who decided to give an on-camera report while search committee Co-Chair Charles Rolland was trying to talk. Is that really standard industry practice?
Anyway, to the candidates.
With the mayor in attendance, a panel of community leaders asked each candidate the same question. Then questions from the crowd were selected for each candidate. They all said they won't work with ICE to deport people. They think racial profiling is bad, they can't arrest their ways out of chronic problems and they all want to work with human services to prevent crimes in the first place.
Rick Braziel for CEO of Police
Rick seemed like a nice guy. Had lots of good stuff to say about how diversity is cool and stuff and how Seattle and Sacramento, where he is currently the Chief of Police, are similar in size, diversity and shape (now that I look at it, Sacramento does kind of look like Seattle with it's head cocked to the side, I guess, sorta). He's all about community policing and says he'll go to our community meetings and things.
He also said he would be better at handling officers who throw out racial slurs than SPD, though he did not mention Shandy Cobane or his Mexican piss kicking specifically. He said a somewhat similar incident happened in Sacramento, and that the department immediately took action, put the officer on leave and launched internal and criminal investigations, called in the NAACP, and alerted the media. Because he was transparent and people trusted he was on it and was serious, he said, the story ran inside the paper and was not a giant scandal (I am going to guess he is talking about this March incident involving a drunk off-duty copy waving his gun and muttering racial slurs).
However, Braziel's address took a fairly unexpected turn (at least I thought so) when he started talking about how the department should be more like a private business. He wanted a "private sector look and feel" with "public sector accountability." He had been using the term "customer service" for the whole talk, but I didn't know he meant it so literally. And, then there was this:
"A police department is all about economic development."
Ron Davis wants to talk about race
As Police Chief in East Palo Alto, Ron Davis said he took over a department that was considered a joke by its peers and turned it into a responsible presence in the community, reducing crime in the process. He took hard stances against racism and racial profiling, saying he rejects the idea that you have to choose between feeling safe and treating people with respect. He likes the phrase "Race is a descriptor, not a predictor," a lot.
Davis is against raids as a means of stopping drug crime, and said those strategies have proven to incarcerate people of color disproportionally. He prefers instead to deal with the issues in the communities and use different strategies to fit each neighborhood.
He kinda bombed the bicycle portion of the test, but he did preface his answer by saying there weren't many bikers in East Palo Alto. He kept referring to them only in relation to "recreation." But I may be willing to let this slide a little bit, since he can probably pick something like that up on the job.
I mean, East Palo Alto is where Dangerous Minds was supposed to take place. So if Ron Davis were Michelle Pfeiffer, I imagine his youth initiatives to keep kids out of gangs would have looked something like this:
John Diaz is the status quo
Y'all know John. He's been around for a long time, worked his way up the ranks. He knows Seattle well and really likes SPD.