Port of Seattle launches task force on Port Policing and Civil Rights

Port of Seattle launches task force on Port Policing and Civil Rights

Nine areas of focus will guide effort over several months, recommendations expected in 2021

The Port of Seattle Commission launched an agency-wide task force on Policing and Civil Rights to lead a comprehensive assessment of the Port of Seattle Police Department.

The year-long effort aims to ensure the Port of Seattle Police Department is aligned with the highest national standards and best practices related to policing and civil rights, according to a Sept. 10 press release. The identified areas of focus for the assessment are:

Diversity in Recruitment and Hiring; Training and Development; Use of Force; Oversight, Accountability, Racial Equity and Civil Rights; Police Union Participation; Budget, Roles, and Equipment; Mutual Aid; and Advocacy.

The Port of Seattle Police Department provides the primary law enforcement service to Sea-Tac Airport and the Port’s seaport properties. The department was created in 1972 and consists of over 115 commissioned police officers and 40 non-commissioned personnel. The Port police are the primary first responders for all reported crimes and incidents within its jurisdiction.

The tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Rayshard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery are only some of the most recent in a long history of unjust killings of Black Americans at the hands of police, reflecting a deeply disturbing pattern of systemic racism in our country that continues to severely impact our cities, communities and essential institutions, according to the press release. Black Lives Matter and the nation are calling for an end to racial injustice, police brutality, killings and dehumanizing of Black Americans, and major reform of policing in the United States.

While there have been no incidents or actions on the part of the Port Police to prompt this action, the Port is taking responsibility by doing its part to respond to the call of history at this seminal moment.

The task force will be led by Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck, Commissioner Ryan Calkins, Delmas Whittaker, senior manager of Fishing Vessel Services and president of the Port’s chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG), and Bookda Gheisar, Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The task force will include both internal staff and outside experts, and will be assisted by a consultant team with national experience in policing reviews.

“In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and intense national attention around police use of force, the Port of Seattle has initiated its own assessment of policing practices within the Port Police Department,” Steinbrueck said. “We are proud of the high-quality service provided by our Port police but see this broad review as a necessary step toward ensuring our policing practices while protecting public safety are the best they can be and are responsive to the clarion call nationally for policing reforms.”

“We owe it to the people of King County, and to everyone who uses our facilities, to feel confident that our law enforcement officers live up to the police department’s mission to fight crime and to protect and serve our community,” Calkins said. “While our department has been exemplary among its peers, there is always room for improvement, and this task force will provide the Commission with sound policy recommendations.”

The recommendations will be delivered in three phases starting in February and continuing through July 2021. The first recommendations will focus on Use-of-Force, Oversight, Accountability, Racial Equity & Civil Rights, and Mutual Aid. The other two phases of recommendations will be forthcoming as those subcommittees conclude their efforts.

“I am excited to co-chair this groundbreaking and innovative effort at the Port of Seattle,” Whittaker said. “This is a great opportunity to improve law enforcement for the betterment of all communities we serve.”

Judge Anne Levinson (Ret.), former judge and deputy mayor to Norm Rice who has led a wide-range of system reform initiatives and for the past decade provided independent oversight for Seattle’s Police accountability system, will be applying her knowledge and expertise to the Task Force’s Oversight, Accountability, Racial Equity and Civil Rights subcommittee.

“I applaud the Port of Seattle for initiating this important law enforcement review effort,” Levinson said. “This work is critical and will enhance the trust, respect, and confidence of those the Port serves.”

21CP Solutions will be the consultant team for the Task Force. 21CP is a national consulting firm that aims to help communities and organizations address public safety challenges and was formed as an offshoot of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The firm is a collective of national experts with a history of working to bridge the gap between officers, their communities, and the policies that determine the relationship.

The Port of Seattle Commission passed its first motion establishing the police assessment task force back in July. Read the full list of task force members.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Sound Transit Board approves Julie Timm as new CEO at $375,000 per year

She replaces Peter Rogoff who left in May after board voted to replace him

t
Statewide task force to tackle organized retail crime rings

Group brings law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers together to combat growing problem

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

t
Oak Harbor man arrested on $1 million bail for alleged hate crime

Yelled threat at Whidbey Island woman; reportedly posted online comments about killing gay people

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Tsr
No more stolen sisters: How WA is responding to missing and murdered Indigenous people

Across the state, 126 Indigenous people remain missing, with 31 having gone missing in King County.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 3): Behind the decision to charge a police officer with murder | King County Local Dive

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Washington wolf population continues to rise, report shows

In 2021, four new wolf packs were documented in four different counties.