The Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck has announced immediate changes to Port of Seattle Police Department protocols regarding hiring practices, commitment to diversity, and use of force. Executive Director Metruck also endorsed a proposal by the Commission for a comprehensive assessment of police policies and practices and recommendations for reforms.
The Commission proposal would create a new Task Force on Policing and Civil Rights to guide the comprehensive police department assessment and report recommendations to the public. The Task Force will include two Commissioners, representatives from the Port’s Blacks in Government employee resource group, the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Port Police, Legal, Labor Relations, and other Port corporate and business divisions. External representatives on the task force may include community leaders, including civil rights advocates, and experts on criminal justice and law enforcement.
The immediate actions implemented by the Executive Director include:
• An immediate ban on use of vascular or airway neck restraints, termed by the public as “chokeholds.”
• Police hiring evaluation panels will be diverse in their membership and include at least one person of color.
• Police officer applicants will be disqualified automatically based on a finding of the use of excessive force against a member of the public or racial discrimination against another employee.
• De-escalation training, anti-discrimination training, and “bystander” intervention (where an officer observes another officer acting in violation of the law or Port of Seattle policies), will be required for all officers on a regular basis.
• The Port will review the issue of “qualified immunity’’ as it applies to police officer conduct.
• The Port will also continue its moratorium on police use of facial recognition technology.
The Commission will convene a Public Forum on June 30 from 10:30 a.m.—1:30 p.m. to review its proposal and take public comment.