1. On Monday night, the Burien City Council expanded the number of hours per day in which being unsheltered will soon be illegal, changing the daily deadline for homeless people to be off the streets from 10 pm to 7 pm. The change, an amendment to the sleeping ban the council passed just one week earlier, bans people from “living on” public property between 7 in the evening and 6 in the morning.
During Monday’s meeting, Burien City Attorney Garmon Newsom II said the city decided to make the adjustment after learning that many shelters “begin making their decisions” about who to admit around 4:30 in the afternoon; by 10pm, most are closed and “it would be too late” to take people there. By starting the ban earlier in the evening, the city seems to believe it can plausibly say shelter was “available” and that people refused to accept it, making it legal for police to remove or arrest unsheltered people from the streets.
Signs of camping, according to the ordinance, include “bedding, cots, sleeping bags, tents or other temporary shelters, personal belongings storage, and cooking equipment use or storage.”
During the meeting, Newsom inaccurately claimed the new proposal actually increases “the amount of time they are able to camp” by allowing “camping” between 7 pm and 6 am; in fact, it does the opposite, making it illegal to be unsheltered in public spaces between those hours. Councilmember Cydney Moore, who opposed the underlying ordinance, tried to correct the record, prompting a brief back and forth with Newsom that Mayor Sofia Aragon cut off, saying Moore should limit her comments to “these technical changes.”
The council’s agenda also suggests proponents were confused about what the amendment does. According to the bill description, it “clarifies, consistent with the council’s previously stated intent, that there will be no camping outside of the hours stated in the ordinance. At this time, the proposed amendment would change the start time for camping from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.” In reality, it changes the start time when “camping” is illegal.
Before voting for the change, deputy mayor Kevin Schilling said the King County Sheriff’s office had signed off on the change. A spokesman for King County Executive Dow Constantine told PubliCola Tuesday that the county still has not made a decision about whether and how to enforce the law.
2. Daniel Auderer, the Seattle Police Officers Guild vice president caught on body-worn video joking with guild president Mike Solan about the killing of 23-year-old student Jaahnavi Kandula by another police officer, Kevin Dave, has been reassigned to review red-light camera footage and sign traffic tickets, PubliCola has learned.
Only a handful of officers are assigned to red-light camera duty at a time. Often, these officers are near retirement or, like Auderer, have been removed from patrol duty because of a complaint or other problem with their performance.
Auderer’s comments came to light when the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which is considering criminal charges against Dave, released the video to PubliCola and a reporter for the Seattle Times in response to records requests.
The Community Police Commission has called on Police Chief Adrian Diaz to put Auderer on leave without pay until the OPA complaint is resolved.
The changes are subtle—so subtle PubliCola didn’t notice them when we wrote about the executive order last week. The order reinstates language saying officers “will” determine the level of threat and make reasonable efforts to divert people from arrest when possible, and restores language Nelson deleted saying that officers should not arrest a person “absent articulable facts and circumstances warranting such action.”
3. In his executive order order clarifying how SPD should implement a new law criminalizing public drug use last week, Mayor Bruce Harrell mostly restated the language in the underlying bill, which says police should try to divert people to social service programs that will help them address their drug use instead of resorting immediately to arrests. But the EO includes a couple of subtle tweaks that could undo changes Councilmember Sara Nelson inserted at the last minute to give officers extra discretion to make arrests.
The changes are subtle—so subtle PubliCola didn’t notice them when we wrote about the executive order last week. They’re about the words “will” and “may.” In her amendments, Nelson changed language stating that officers “will” determine whether a person poses a threat of harm to self or others, and language stating that officers “will make reasonable efforts to” use diversion rather than arrest to say that officers “may” do both things, making each decision completely discretionary.
Harrell’s executive order reinstates language saying officers “will” determine the level of threat and make reasonable efforts to divert people from arrest when possible, and restores language Nelson deleted saying that officers should not arrest a person “absent articulable facts and circumstances warranting such action.”
Mayoral spokesman Jamie Housen told PubliCola, “As was discussed extensively during Council debate, the legislative branch cannot direct the actions of executive branch employees through legislation. Mayor Harrell has made it clear that under this bill he wants officers to conduct a threat of harm assessment and that diversion is the preferred outcome rather than further criminal legal system engagement.”
Under the language Nelson added to the bill, there would be little recourse if officers decided, using their broad discretion, to arrest every person using drugs in public without determining if they posed a threat, and no legal reason for officers to try to get people into diversion programs instead of arresting them. By changing both words back to “will”—in the implementing executive order, if not the legislation—Harrell strengthened the bill (which, we feel obligated to add, still does not require diversion or fund any new diversion programs).