The tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel Ellis, and Rayshard Brooks led to this watershed moment, with community groups demanding justice, civil rights, and an end to racism at all levels.
During this critical moment in history, the Port must ensure that our Police Department is held to the highest nationwide standards achievable for public safety, protection of civil rights, equity, accountability and oversight.
The Commission proposes an assessment of the Port of Seattle Police Department as part of its effort to reinvent our industries to recognize and address systemic racism. The Commission proposal would create a new Task Force on Policing and Civil Rights, comprised of Commissioners, Port staff, police representatives, and outside expertise. The Task Force would conduct an assessment of the Department, reviewing important issues such as recruitment and diversity of new police officers, training, and use of force. This assessment is not related to a specific incident or complaint.
Members of the Port’s chapter of Blacks in Governments, as well as Port of Seattle Police Department Acting Chief Michael Villa, provided invaluable guidance and perspective in the development of the assessment proposal.
Milestones and Upcoming Action
The Commission reviewed the proposal and took public comment on the proposal during a June 30th community forum.
The public can comment on Port police practices through July 14 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Port Commission will consider all public comments and develop an updated version of the proposal for consideration during its July 14 meeting.
This comprehensive assessment builds on immediate actions Executive Director Steve Metruck directed the Port Police Department to implement on June 23. Those new policies prohibit the use of chokeholds, increase transparency, and update requirements for hiring and training.
Port of Seattle Police Assessment Materials
June 30, 2020 Port Commission Community Forum on a Port Policing Assessment
Port Police Manual
Port Executive Director Steve Metruck
As a nation, we are asking critical questions about the role of law enforcement, and what we ask of the men and women who have chosen to serve in the profession of law enforcement, with all its challenges, on our behalf….The Port Police Department has a special and critical role in protecting the traveling public, our employees, our business partners and our vital infrastructure for trade and commerce. At the airport alone, they interact with millions of people each year…. While we are proud of our Police Department and the work that it does, we must also be willing and able to look at ourselves, challenge our assumptions, and be open to questions from those we serve… We need to listen to all voices, ask difficult questions, and work together toward the goal of making the Port of Seattle Police Department and the Port of Seattle stronger and more responsive to the communities we serve.
Port Commission President Peter Steinbrueck
The Port of Seattle has the responsibility during this critical moment in history to ensure that our Police Department is held to the highest nationwide standards achievable for public safety, protection of civil rights, equity, accountability and oversight…There are always opportunities for improvement and we need to ensure that our policies and practices are not disproportionately impacting our Black community. I firmly believe the work of the Task Force will broadly benefit the Port, the Port Police, the communities we serve, and users of Port facilities. The Port must lead by example by acting swiftly and meaningfully in identifying and implementing Task Force recommendations.
Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins
The voices of those who share today, and who have shared through email, social media and other public channels, make clear that cosmetic changes to our policies are not enough. Rather, we, like every other public agency with a police department, must understand this as a watershed moment when incremental changes are not enough… In a nutshell, that is what our community members are asking for: a world in which the children of black and brown families can safely assume that the police are a force for good in their communities, that they have no reason to fear for their own life and safety when interacting with them, and that the police are there to protect and serve them as well. In so many ways, our Port police department has been on the leading edge of best policing practices. I look forward to the work we will do today, and as part of this task force, to ensure that our police department continues to be a model for departments around the state and the country.