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Monday, June 25, 2007

Mayor’s Office Mucking Up the OPA Oversight Process?

posted by on June 25 at 21:06 PM

When Mayor Greg Nickels sent a letter to Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) director Kathryn Olson, asking her to look into allegations made in a leaked Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) report - that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske had interfered in an OPA investigation - it seemed as if the tide was finally turning. A day before he sent his letter to Olson, Nickels had expressed firm support for the Chief. His letter to Olson seemed to be an about-face. Today, Nickelsí office sent out another letter:

Councilmembers,

In light of the recent misrepresentations regarding Chief Kerlikowski’s
role in the OPA process, I would like to provide you with the following
two documents:

1) A memorandum from Kate Pflaumer, OPA Auditor, outlining the OPA
process should any question still remain; and
2) Information regarding the number of cases in 2005 and 2006 in which
the Chief disagreed with the OPA Director’s findings.

Best,
Emelie East

East is a liason between the Mayor’s office and city council.

As of this afternoon, Olsen stated that her final report to Nickels was a ways off. It appears that the Mayor has already made up his mind before all the facts are in, which is exactly what OPARB accused the Chief of doing.

It’s possible the Mayor’s office is addressing the “misrepresentation” of Kerlikowske’s role in the oversight process, which Pflaumer’s letter explains. However, by including the second document - which states that the Kerlikowske has only disagreed with a handful of OPA’s recommendations for disciplining officers - it looks a lot like Nickels is going to bat for the Chief before Olson gets a chance to complete her report.


RSS icon Comments

1

I'm sorry but assigning the new Director of the OPA to review the behavior of her boss, without offering her any kind of protection against backlash, was transparently frought with conflicts of interest and a lack of objectivity to begin with. And it was done with the intention of buying time for Nickels and Co. to lash out and say that we don't yet have all the facts-- as if anything the OPA Review Board documented was inaccurate.

It hardly matters anyway. This servile City Council has, with the exception of Nick Licata, shown itself completely unwilling to consider the content of the OPA Review Board's report on its own merits. Nickels will say that there has been "distortion", but doesn't have the guts to say what that is. That's Olsen's job, clearly. And it's clear that no one has her back. The City Council just follows, also looking for an excuse to not take on the police guild, saying it doesn't want to rush to judge Kerlikowske. Fine. If anyone on the City Council or in the Mayor's office has said anything about it not being ok for police to use excessive force, to lie, to take drugs from people, to plant drugs on people or send them to jail on false charges, I missed it.

Protest this Thursday, 4pm, City Hall.

Posted by Trevor | June 26, 2007 12:05 AM
2

see also: "Police chief exonerated officers in violent arrest", Seattle Times, June 16, 2007

Kerlikowske did not punish any of the officers involved in the [Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes] incident, even though records show the civilian director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), which oversees internal police investigations, found two were guilty of excessive force and all three were guilty of serious breaches in conduct. She recommended discipline for all three.

[...]

In the Alley-Barnes arrest on Capitol Hill, a patrol-car dashboard camera captured audio but not video. The audio revealed inconsistencies in the officers' accounts, according to court records.

Blows can be heard. A woman can be heard saying, "Oh my God!"

At one point, the 29-year-old Alley-Barnes -- an artist with no criminal record -- pleads with the officers to "please stop kicking me!"

Another voice can be heard saying, "That's way too much!"

Posted by hyperlinker | June 26, 2007 7:41 AM

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