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Quattrone Center co-facilitates Sentinel Event Review of ‘Wave 2’ of Seattle Police Department’s response to 2020 protests

March 16, 2022

“[T]he panel is showing that bridges between the community and the SPD can be rebuilt on a foundation of mutual respect and dignity,” said the Quattrone Center’s Executive Director John Hollway C’92, MAPP’18.

The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice recently co-facilitated  a community-centered Sentinel Event Review (SER) of five critical incidents that took place during the second week of protests in Seattle following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. Based on the SER, the Seattle Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified 26 recommendations designed to improve the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) response to protests in the future.

The OIG is part of the city’s independent police oversight system that provides systemic oversight to help ensure the fairness and integrity of the police system. The SER, co-facilitated by PointOneNorth Consulting, brought together a diverse group of community members and SPD representatives to examine root causes of poor policing outcomes and identify opportunities for systemic improvement.

“OIG developed this SER process to create systemic change in policing through dialogue and mutual understanding,” said Inspector General Lisa Judge. “During Wave 2, the Panel heard firsthand accounts of how SPD’s response to the protests affected residents and staff from a nearby residential building and developed recommendations for greater communication and transparency not just with protesters, but with the surrounding community. The community panelists continue to ask thoughtful and challenging questions and the SPD panelists have engaged constructively, acknowledging harm from SPD actions during this period. The events of 2020 affected everyone and building relationships is a critical first step toward rebuilding trust with the community.”

OIG reviewed available data and identified five distinct “waves” of protest activity. This report is the Panel’s analysis of “Wave 2,” covering events that occurred between June 2 and June 7, 2020. Additional reports on the subsequent waves will follow later in the year.

John Hollway C'92, MAPP'18, Executive Director of the Quattrone Center John Hollway C'92, MAPP'18, Executive Director of the Quattrone Center“The Sentinel Event Wave Two Report summarizes weeks of groundbreaking work by the community members and SPD representatives on the review panel,” said John Hollway C’91, MAPP’18, Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center, who specializes in conducting SERs in criminal justice. “During this period, protests became a repetitive, nightly conflict, and the panel has managed to help community and police officers alike better understand how and why the protests continued to escalate. In addition to generating 26 specific recommendations for improving the facilitation of crowd events in ways that will improve safety and reduce the risk of violence, the panel is showing that bridges between the community and the SPD can be rebuilt on a foundation of mutual respect and dignity.”

The recommendations of the SER panel (including a diverse group of community members, SPD officers of different ranks, and the Inspector General) fall into four main areas:

  • Community Legitimacy – SPD and City must recognize that extensive and improved efforts are necessary to restore and rebuild trust between SPD and the communities it serves;
  • Communication and Community Engagement – SPD should enhance its capacity to communicate with protesters about providing security services, intra-crowd violence prevention, and emergency medical assistance for those who experience a medical crisis during protests;
  • Situational Awareness – SPD should coordinate with the City to ensure that specific staff members are designated to interact with community members and businesses that are negatively impacted by protest activity and other emergencies, and by SPD activity in response; and
  • Tactics and Equipment – SPD should modify its current use of less-lethal munitions and chemical munitions during crowd events, especially in residential areas.

Read the full report.