Seminar on Relations with SPD Funds by Retired Former Chief Compassion Seattle Passes the Hat; SPD travel ban in Israel fails

1. The Seattle Police Department’s continued efforts to scale up its officer welfare program are heading into intimate territory: Next week former SPD deputy chief Nick Metz will host a city-funded dinner and a relationship counseling workshop for officers alongside his wife, Dr. Sara Metz — a clinical psychologist specializing in first responders. To sweeten the deal (and prolong the “intimate” atmosphere?), The department is offering a limited number of free hotel rooms to couples attending the workshop.

After two years of staggering attrition, agent wellness programs have taken on new meaning for SPD. According to a leaflet distributed to employees of the department, the Metz workshop aims to respond to “relationship problems generally encountered by police officers” – a complaint that predates the current crisis in the personnel of the department.

In November 2013, interim chief Jim Pugel demoted Metz from deputy chief to captain in a brief purge of department heads. and excessive force by SPD agents. Less than two months after his demotion, Metz briefly returned to the rank of deputy chief under new acting SPD chief Harry Bailey before leaving the department entirely to head the Aurora, Colorado Police Department in 2015.

Metz retired in October 2019 to join his wife’s consulting firm; his retirement came following the death of Elijah McClain, an unarmed 23-year-old black man who police in Aurora placed in a strangulation while paramedics administered a lethal dose of ketamine. A Colorado grand jury indicted three of the officers and two paramedics with manslaughter and negligent homicide earlier this month.

The campaign, which has raised more than $ 1 million as part of its push for Charter Amendment 29 on the ballot, owes Seattle-based Foster Garvey more than $ 216,000 for legal services , according to reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission – and that’s in addition to the $ 44,000 campaign has already paid the company.

At the time of his exit from the SPD, Metz was also at the center of a lawsuit against the department by a sergeant who said he suffered retaliation for complaining about Metz’s preferential allocation of lucrative overtime to a small group of his closest friends. A King County Superior Court jury then ruled against the department, awarding the sergeant and a captain $ 2.8 million who sided with it.

2. Compassion Seattle, the business-backed campaign to change the Seattle City Charter to require the city to add thousands of accommodation beds with no new money in order to keep public spaces “free and uncluttered” from. camps, ask the partisans to help them. pay off their debts, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills to defend the initiative. As PubliCola reported, a King County Superior Court judge categorically dismissed the measure as falling outside of the initiative process, a decision the state Court of Appeals made. confirmed a week later.

In an email to supporters, the campaign declared some sort of moral victory, claiming the “change[ing] civic conversation ”by raising homelessness as an issue. “Help us communicate our message effectively and pay off our debt,” the email read.

The campaign, which has raised more than $ 1 million as part of its push for Charter Amendment 29 on the ballot, owes Seattle-based Foster Garvey more than $ 216,000 for legal services , according to reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission – and that’s in addition to the $ 44,000 campaign has already paid the company.

Other notable debts and campaign expenses include: $ 22,000 to the Downtown Seattle Association; $ 232,000 to the political consulting firm Cerillon N4 Partners; $ 98,000 to political consulting firm Blue Wave Partners; $ 151,000 to political consulting firm The Feary Group; and $ 1.1 million to Utah-based signature collection company Landslide Political.

In its letter, the Seattle Compassion Campaign notes that “we have managed to collect over 60,000 signatures on petitions.” It depends on your definition of “success”; in fact, nearly half of those signatures were rejected as invalid, meaning the campaign and its supporters, mostly large downtown real estate interests, spent around $ 32 on each of the 34,714 valid signatures.

3. After a nearly three-hour debate, city council narrowly voted to reject Council Member Kshama Sawant’s “End the Deadly Exchange” legislation, which would have banned Seattle police and management from training, participate in “exchange” programs with or take any official trip to Israel. Although council members Andrew Lewis and Lorena González abstained in a committee vote on the bill, saying they hoped to work with Sawant to refine the legislation to make it a more neutral condemnation of countries who commit human rights violations, they both voted “no” in its entirety. counsel, as well as Dan Strauss, Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen.

Juarez, citing the alarming rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States, said the legislation “creates more heat than light.” González said she agreed with the idea of ​​condemning human rights violations committed by Israel and other nations, but also expressed concern about the unintended and “conflicting” consequences of the passing legislation designed specifically to target Israel, not other countries. And Strauss said he consistently called for a “nationally neutral” bill, but Sawant never responded to his requests to change the law, a charge Sawant denied.

Strauss actually proposed an amendment that would prohibit SPD officials from exchanging training with the police and military of any foreign country, including Canada, but the motion failed.

Lewis noted that the city as a whole has not participated in “any international travel events in Israel” for at least seven years, and no police training in countries other than Canada for the past decade. He added that he was not convinced by arguments that the SPD learned the “bad crowd control techniques” that it was using to quell protests in 2020 during departmental trips to Israel. “I haven’t seen anything indicating anywhere that there is a causal relationship,” Lewis said.

Morales, who voted for the bill, said the question was clear to her. “As a city, we shouldn’t be spending public money to send police overseas for training with countries that violate human rights,” she said.

Before the vote, Sawant spent several minutes denouncing his colleagues (including Strauss, by name) in a lengthy speech that four board members – Strauss, González, Teresa Mosqueda and Juarez – tried to interrupt by calling for a vote. “There is no substitute for mass organizing by all of us apart from the Democratic Party establishment,” Sawant said. Before asking the question, González said: “I am sorry to the public for what happened and I want to encourage us, as leaders of this city, to strive to lead by example. “

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