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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Chief Candidate Favors Civilian Police Oversight

Davis got to meet the prime candidate for the open Police Chief position last night down at Council Chambers. It was a small group of people for the brief meet and greet. A bit disappointing given the magnitude of this hire for the future of the Davis Police Department.

Perhaps the most interesting news of the night regarding Seattle Police Captain Landy Black was Councilmember Lamar Heystek's pronouncement from the dais that Captain Black is a supporter of civilian police review.

The city of Seattle adopted a version of citizen oversight in 2002 when the Seattle City Council created the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board composed of three citizens appointed by the City Council. This board receives roughly 10 percent of randomly selected closed cases that were processed by the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). OPA is made up of a civilian director - who reports to the police chief - and an auditor - appointed by the mayor. The office handles citizen complaints and mediations between members of the community and the Seattle Police Department.

Unfortunately given the setting, I did not get to ask the Captain a number of questions that I had for him. I will try to contact him later this week to follow up.

A few things of note, Captain Black is from Ohio originally, but attended the University of Washington and ended up staying in Seattle. His precinct includes the Capitol Hill area of Washington which is a very diverse community and rather eclectic. It compares well to some of the more eclectic parts of San Francisco for instance.

Captain Black turns 50 on Thursday of this week. Although he looks considerably younger than that.

My sense of him was that he gave a lot of well-prepared answers, so it was difficult to really get an assessment of him. I did ask him if he had thick skin or thin skin. His response was that he could definitely get offended but that he tried not to act rashly as the result of being offended and that he tried to remind himself that this was not personal but that people were often reacting the situation and that often the position was a symbol for the problems rather than the problem itself.

He also expressed an understanding of the problem of racial profiling. He said this was a problem that was rather widespread, but I was not able to follow-up to ask him what he thought ought to be done to correct this problem.

I would like to be able to say that I have a good sense of this guy, but really I did not get the opportunity to ask him a number of questions. He did mention that he has read this blog and he is a fan of such endeavors to educate the community.

We will find out shortly if Captain Black will become Davis Police Chief Landy Black. At this point if they decide not to hire him, the process would have to start over, as he is the only realistic candidate at this point.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting