The Office of Police Accountability's decision is out, and so is Jeff Bezos. Discussing what comes next, this week
Ross Reynolds reviews the week's news with KUOW reporter Esmy Jimenez, New York Times technology correspondent Karen Weise, and Publicola police accountability reporter Paul Kiefer.
On Thursday the Office of Police Accountability released their findings on an investigation into Seattle Police Department officer conduct at the January 6th riot at the US Capitol building in Washington DC. They recommended that two police officers be fired for their involvement in the riots. Four other officers who were in D.C. should not face any discipline, according to the report. Now it's up to Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz - will he fire the two officers?
On Wednesday a coalition of University of Washington students and faculty asked regents to pressure the administration to disband the UW police department. This demand came after recent reporting by the New York Times that all five Black rank-and-file officers in the UW police force had filed a multi-million-dollar damages claim, due to the racism they had experienced within the department. In the filing they said that included racial slurs, vicious comments about Black people, and open hostility directed at them and at members of the public. The coalition says that the Seattle Police Department already has jurisdiction over the campus, and that students don’t need to be “policed twice”. Will the UW disband their police department?
Plus, at least 78 people died in Washington State as a result of last week’s heat wave. Hundreds have died in Oregon and British Columbia as well, and local officials say they fear more deaths will be discovered in the coming weeks. Washington’s current count is considered preliminary - the state health department says it could be close to a month before a near final count is available. Many of the people who died lived alone, or did not have shelter. How did Washington prepare for this heat wave, and what should the state do next time?
A new report by Oregon Public Broadcasting has found that the sheriff’s office in Clark County, WA has continuously shared inmates’ personal information with ICE. As recently as February, the jail and federal agents communicated almost daily. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights said they are concerned that the seemingly tight relationships may lead to violating state immigration policy. Is this kind of relationship between ICE and law enforcement common here in Washington?
Speaking of issues with law enforcement related organizations, last Friday, Washington’s Office of Corrections Ombuds released their final recommendations from a nearly two-year-long review of the state’s work release program. The OCO found an alarming pattern of retaliation and arbitrary discipline by contract staff at work release centers across the state. Recommendations to change that pattern included standardized staff training, giving people accused of breaking rules copies of the evidence against them, and identifying less severe alternatives to returning to prison for minor slip ups. But will these changes be enough?
Finally, this week Jeff Bezos officially left his position as Amazon’s CEO, handing the reigns over to Andy Jassy. But while he may have been the most high profile person to leave, he’s not the only one. Dozens of executives in Amazon’s upper ranks have departed in the past 18 months, many after working there for over a decade. Plus there’s the ongoing issue of retention among Amazon warehouse workers - a recent report by the New York Times said that pre-pandemic Amazon lost about 3 percent of its hourly associates each week. That’s around 150% a year. Why are so many people leaving Amazon?