Seattle Police and Mayor Mike McGinn held a press conference Monday with the goal of shedding light on why major metropolitan-area police chiefs, academics from top-tier universities like Harvard, Yale and Berkeley, and community leaders from around the country have gathered their brains in a conference room (with a breathtaking view) on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower on 5th Avenue.
The information packet handed out by SPD spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb is titled "A Consortium to Build a New Policing Paradigm." The press conference, held in the same room as the ongoing consortium, in which Mayor McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz gave short presentations and answered reporters' questions, was squeezed into a 15-minute break from the think tank's activity.
Part of the famed SPD 20/20 plan, the consortium, which will also meet tomorrow, is a sort of all-star brainstorming session. The goal of the two-day conference is to bring together researchers, community leaders and law enforcement officials and let them throw out ideas - problems, solutions, anything having to do with law enforcement that might be on the minds of those gathered - in hopes that this approach will eventually lead to more effective policing techniques down the road.
It seems the goal of the consortium is to determine what problems need the most attention. Mayor McGinn and Chief Diaz are planning on amassing a list of many ideas, conceived by the minds of those gathered (whose lodging was paid for by tax payers), about the current state and future of law enforcement policy. That list will be narrowed down to what Chief Diaz described as "one or two areas we're going to focus on."
From the information packet:
It is against this backdrop that the current proposal is advanced. Its purpose is to create a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional consortium to serve as a laboratory and proving ground to examine current policing practice and to build a new policing paradigm that combines crime control effectiveness with broad community support and acceptance. The proposed approach integrates three interrelated strategies--policing science, practice, and community involvement--on a collaborative platform that focuses on shared values and true partnerships and that fosters trust and confidence.
Basically SPD is turning to their peers in law enforcement as well as smart and accomplished civilians for ideas on how to proceed into the future.
"We're not going to figure out, by ourselves, how to do this," McGinn said. He went on to describe a "police department that fights crime and builds trust, as well."
"We're bringing community into this, keeping them involved from day one," Diaz said.
It's all very vague, seemingly with no clear goal in mind. "Let's get together and see what happens," appears to be the mantra. Mayor McGinn and SPD seem to be acknowledging there are some problems with law enforcement in Seattle without getting too specific. McGinn said that gathering police chiefs from around the country will prove beneficial because many big cities share many of the same problems.
Among those in attendance are police chiefs from cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta, Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego and professors from leading universities from around the country. A second press conference will be held Tuesday, updating the consortium's progress.