The Seattle Police Department is under all kinds of pressure to clean up the way it treats the citizenry. The feds are after it for brutality, often after jaywalking violations. City Council members have grilled Harry Bailey, the interim police chief, over decisions to punish errant officers with wrist slaps.
But I’d tell you the department’s problems are a lot more basic than that. For instance, the SPD has absolutely no idea whatsoever from its own records how many traffic tickets are written for specific offenses, especially but hardly limited to jaywalking.
Don’t believe me? Well, I now have that in writing from the department itself.
“The Seattle Police Department does not currently compile the type of records you have requested,” the agency’s Public Disclosure Unit said in an email to me yesterday. The note was in the name of Bailey and the person in the unit who actually wrote and sent it. In a follow-up note this morning, she wrote, “We could find out how many citations were issued by SPD … but we do not keep stats as to how many were issued for each type of violation.” I’m going to spare some professional embarrassment and not identify her here.
As someone who remains New To Seattle, I am still trying to figure out the way city government works. My quest to ascertain some rather elementary information has not been very fruitful, but it certainly has given me insight into the way the wheels grind here. Continue reading