Seattle Police Chief John Diaz appeared this afternoon before the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety Committee to submit and discuss his department’s 2012 fourth quarter progress report. It’s routine business that usually takes no more than a few minutes to dispense with.
But today was different, coming as it did in the wake of a scalding independent review of the violence and vandalism that shook the city’s business core during last year’s May Day protest.
As a result, Diaz, when he mercifully concluded his dry presentation, was asked about his thoughts about the harshly-worded 62-page report written by former Los Angeles Police Deputy Michael Hillman.
To summarize, the Hillmann report concluded, as The Seattle Times wrote this morning, that police lost control of the protest for several hours that day, that there planning gaps and deployment miscues, and as Hillmann stated, “The ‘mayhem’ that resulted ... significantly damaged the credibility of the Police Department with the community because of the ‘appearance of inability’ to protect the downtown.”
Hillmann also lambasted the department for not even beginning to plan for event until April 24.
Also, Hillmann said the SPD rank-and-file had not received any crowd-management tactics training since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests.
At today’s council session, Committee Chair Bruce Harrell -- a candidate for mayor -- asked Diaz, who commissioned the report, why it took so long to get the Hillmann’s critical review as well as the departments own much-delayed internal after-action report on the May Day response.
Diaz, speaking in a quiet monotone, offered no specific explanation.
Harrell also asked the chief whether he agreed with all 38 recommendations that Hillmann included in his report.
“I think there’s some that we’ll have to talk more about that,” Diaz replied.
Since the council just received the damning reports two days ago, Harrell said the matter will be more fully discussed on as a separate agenda item at the Public Safety Committee’s next meeting on April 17.