Mayor Durkan Announces Public Safety and Crowd Management Policy Changes Following Meetings with Demonstrations Organizers and Community Leaders

Seattle (June 7, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan was joined by Police Chief Carmen Best to announce new measures that address public safety and crowd management at demonstrations, following meetings with leaders from the Black community and leaders of demonstrations. You can view her full remarks here.  

For the past week, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best have cleared schedules to meet with leaders of the Black community, other communities of color, demonstrators, and the City’s accountability partners at the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Office of Police Accountability (OPA), and the Community Police Commission (CPC), to help identify community needs and policy changes that could be quickly enacted in addition to steps that SPD can do to de-escalate demonstrations.  

Mayor Durkan has committed to build on these efforts including reviewing the SPD budget with special focus on listening community voices throughout the process. On Saturday, Mayor Durkan and City officials met with leadership of Black Lives Matter Seattle and King County and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to discuss the long-standing oppression of Black Americans, and their community-focused ideas to force systemic change – Mayor Durkan concurred with many of their requests and is working to quickly implement changes, including establishing and ongoing resourcing of a Seattle Black Commission and investing $100 million in community-driven programs for Black youths and adults. 

In recent days, the City has implemented a series of steps as it relates to police reform:   

  • An Emergency Order tomorrow that requires that officers have their body cams turned on to record during the demonstrations. To create a policy that truly lasts and won’t be dismantled by a lawsuit, Mayor Durkan is asking CPC, City Council, OPA and experts like the ACLU and Public Defenders Association to submit a revised policy recommendation on use of body cameras during lawful events like a peaceful protest.  
  • The Chief issued a directive to all her officers calling on them to ensure their badge number was visible to the public.  
  • City Attorney Pete Holmes has withdrawn the City’s filing to end the sustainment period under the Consent Decree, so that we can go back to the Court after evaluating the SPD’s response to the demonstrations.  
  • Mayor Durkan has asked our civilian independent police accountability partners – OPA, OIG, and CPC – as well as the DOJ and federal monitor to examine all of the current Seattle Police policies for crowd management. Over the next 30 days, they are reviewing whether to permanently ban tear gas and make any other recommendations to de-escalate or use less lethal crowd management tools.  
  • The Seattle Police Department will be updating their policies this week to succinctly, and clearly, reflect best practices for the use of force concerns we have heard from the community – related to the 2016 Campaign Zero national policy survey. This includes the City’s current ban on chokeholds, firing a weapon at a moving vehicle, and exhausting all other options before using force. This will further restrict the use of excessive and deadly force.  
  • Mayor Durkan supports an independent prosecutor at the state level for investigation and prosecutions of any police officers or other state actor who commits deadly force. This is in addition to the investigations conducted currently through I-940 and our accountability system. 
  • Protesting and demonstrating are not crimes, and Mayor Durkan has been clear from the outset that no one should be arrested or have charges filed against them for peacefully protesting or for violating the temporary curfew when we had it imposed. City and county prosecutors can ensure this is the case.  

In the wake of demonstrations and out of concern that the large gatherings may represent a mass COVID-19 exposure event, Mayor Durkan announced that the free Citywide testing initiative will expand testing criteria to include those who have participated in demonstrations that began on May 30. Those concerned, can be tested without having symptoms at the two drive-up sites in north and south Seattle. Individuals are strongly urged to pre-register, to help keep testing to 10 minutes or less.