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Record No: CB 118761    Version: Council Bill No: CB 118761
Type: Ordinance (Ord) Status: Passed
Current Controlling Legislative Body City Clerk
Final Action: 6/1/2017
Ordinance No: Ord 125313
Title: AN ORDINANCE relating to a public safety bill of rights for the Seattle public; renumbering Subchapter VI as Subchapter V and creating a new Subchapter VI in Chapter 3.28 of the Seattle Municipal Code.
Sponsors: Lisa Herbold
Supporting documents: 1. Summary and Fiscal Note v1b, 2. Summary and Fiscal Note v1a, 3. Central Staff Memo, 4. Central Staff Memo (revised; added 8/17/16), 5. Proposed Substitute to CB 118761 (added 8/17/16), 6. Revised Summary and Fiscal Note, 7. Central Staff Memo (2/22/17), 8. Central Staff Memo (5/10/17), 9. Memo Att 1: Substitute CB 118761 (updated 5/10/17), 10. Memo Att 2: SPD Policy 5.160, 11. Signed Ord_125313
CITY OF SEATTLE
ORDINANCE __________________
COUNCIL BILL ____________________
title
AN ORDINANCE relating to a public safety bill of rights for the Seattle public; renumbering Subchapter VI as Subchapter V and creating a new Subchapter VI in Chapter 3.28 of the Seattle Municipal Code.
body
WHEREAS, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) policy since 2008, which recognizes the right of members of the public to observe and record police performing their duties in a public place, can be enhanced, strengthened, and made permanent through codification in the Seattle Municipal Code; and
WHEREAS, the rights of public observers, which courts have recognized as flowing from the First Amendment, and various state constitutional rights that favor government transparency and protect the public's right to hold government officials accountable, transcend police policy; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court in Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 461 (1987) recognized that "the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers"; and
WHEREAS, the need for stronger protections for public observers was evident in the 2011 arrest of a person in Seattle for exercising their right to observe the police in State v. E.J.J., 183 Wn.2d 497, 354 P.3d 815 (2015) and in past incidents identified by SPD's Office of Professional Accountability Auditor of obstruction charges against observers and those filing complaints with SPD's Office of Professional Accountability; and
WHEREAS, officer in-car video or body cameras are not always present and turned on at each public interaction for various reasons, including officer discretion not to record in certain sensitive situations and Department policy based on City law not to record in most instances where individuals are exercising rights of free speech, assembly and worship, and the recordings by members of the public provide a unique perspective that captures additional details of an event,...

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