Olympia's Community Livability and Public Safety Committee was briefed on the Community Oversight of Law Enforcement project, which would create a model that improves transparency and accountability.
At the committee meeting on Wednesday, May 24, City Assistant Manager Debbie Sullivan said the project would involve research, a co-design process, communication, outreach, and community engagement to achieve its purpose and outcomes, including:
According to Sullivan, community engagement is crucial in developing recommendations. The project will start with evaluating the current police oversight model and assessing if it still meets the community's needs.
In November, the city made a request for proposal (RFP) for consultation services to help the city council's appointed 11-member Social Justice and Equity Commission develop a model for civilian oversight of the Olympia Police Department.
Sam Martin of SDM Consulting said the project is taking a particular approach that keeps community members at the core and use their knowledge and expertise. Another method is to have a constructive dialogue across diverse stakeholders.
Martin said they seek to co-create an oversight model with all stakeholder groups. They would examine and evaluate various oversight models that address the needs of marginalized communities, including racial minorities, individuals experiencing mental health crises, and those with disabilities.
SDM Consulting would begin its research by analyzing the work of the Olympia Police auditor and the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, which has established oversight laws in various municipalities.
The research areas include appointing authority, powers and duties, staffing, reporting requirements, community oversight structure, and composition and authority.
"We intend to combine the co-design with the research to ensure that we bring together the best of both worlds. When we link community members, we will make sure that they have access to all this research and data in a digestible and usable way to bolster their expertise to help them form this process," Martin told the committee members.
The co-design groups would be composed of:
For the first phase of the process, they would work with the Social Justice and Equity Commission, OPD, and recruit community members to do the work with them.
They will launch individual co-design sessions in each stakeholder group.
For phase 2, the three co-design groups will collaborate to share their concerns and ideas about police accountability measures in Olympia. They will integrate research and analysis of other models into the co-design process.
For phase 3, there would be a large group assembly. The co-design team will present their recommendations and gather feedback from the community on the developed model.
Strategic Planning and Performance Manager Stacey Ray said they are looking for eight to 10 community members to be part of the process. She said they want folks from marginalized communities.
"We are trying to expand our level of engagement to the folks that may have had a history of distrust with the city or have not had involvement in decision-making or planning process," Ray said.
To read about current Police Oversight in Olympia, and to get contact information about the proposal, click here.
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