The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) reported Sunday in a front-page story that "Tacoma’s new Citizen Review Panel will assess police response to recent anti-war protests when it meets Monday night." -- The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. on Mon., Apr. 2, in Room 16 of the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402. -- Kris Sherman quoted an activist's call to use the meeting as a place to "file complaints about police brutality, illegal acts, and other issues you observed at the Port of Tacoma protests," and reported that panel members "expect to listen to what people have to say Monday night." -- A separate story, also on the front page, discussed the costs of the police response to Tacoma, which were estimated at $500,000. -- The News Tribune is also running an online poll on the question: "Who should pay the bill for costs stemming from last month's anti-war protests at the Port of Tacoma?" -- As of 8:30 p.m. PDT, 84 people had voted: 10 (12%) said that the "Port of Tacoma" should pay, 15 (18%) said "The military/U.S. government" should pay, and 59 (70%) said that "The protesters" should pay. -- It's not too late to vote, here. -- Twenty-two comments had also been posted, in which there was much discussion of protesters but none of police misconduct. -- The News Tribune's story also omitted the fundamental fact about this story: riot police used riot control agents when there was no riot to control. -- Webster's New World Dictionary (4th ed.) defines "riot" as a "wild or violent disorder, confusion, or disturbance" or "a violent public disturbance of the peace." -- Eyewitnesses agree that only the police were guilty of this in the Port of Tacoma protests, and YouTube videos confirm it: see here and here and here and here....
POLICE CONDUCT AT PORT WILL GET CITIZEN REVIEW
By Kris Sherman
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
April 1, 2007
Tacoma’s new Citizen Review Panel will assess police response to recent anti-war protests when it meets Monday night.
The five-member committee won’t consider specific allegations of misconduct, but it’s expected to take up how Tacoma police handled 12 days of demonstrations at the port.
The activist Web site portland.indymedia.org (http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/03/356587.shtml) is urging readers to attend the meeting and “file complaints about police brutality, illegal acts, and other issues you observed at the Port of Tacoma protests.”
Hundreds kept vigil for more than a week at the intersection of Milwaukee Way and Lincoln Avenue to protest the shipment of Army Strykers and other vehicles through the port en route to Iraq.
Police dressed in riot gear and protesters tangled on a couple of occasions. Officers used tear gas and pepper spray to halt what they described as rowdy uprisings; protesters say cops employed unnecessary force on a peaceful assembly.
The well-publicized events prompted committee members to look at police training and policies on handling civic unrest, Citizen Review Panel member John Q. La Fond said Friday.
Consideration of such a meaty subject so early in the panel’s tenure could blunt criticism by some that the committee would have limited power and effectiveness.
The council-appointed panel, officially formed last month, has met only twice.
City leaders pledged to create a police oversight group after Police Chief David Brame shot and killed his wife and himself four years ago. Some department critics envisioned an independent panel that could assess how well the Police Department handled individual complaints against officers.
That’s not possible because of union contracts, City Manager Eric Anderson told City Council members last month when they formally created the panel.
But Anderson and his staff said they still saw room for meaningful work by the group.
Discussion of police policies and training for large-scale demonstrations like the anti-war protests at the port signals the panel’s intention to “stay abreast of issues that are of concern to this community,” committee chairwoman Trisha King Stargel said.
City officials stress that discussing allegations of individual misconduct remains beyond the panel’s scope.
But that doesn’t mean people won’t be able to make their complaints about police conduct known.
Early in their meeting, panel members should delineate at least temporary rules for public comment, King Stargel said. They expect to listen to what people have to say Monday night.
The panel will also get an overview of the city’s Conduct Complaint Management System, which was initiated last fall.
The meeting was moved from a small 11th-floor conference room at City Hall to the larger room where the City Council conducts study sessions in order to accommodate the expected large crowd, city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said.
The posting attributed to Jeff Sinclaire on the Portland Independent Media Center Web site exhorts readers:
“Let’s continue to pressure Tacoma to refuse to allow the military to use our port to export immoral and illegal war and occupation.
Police made 37 arrests during the 12-day protest over the loading of the ship with 300 Army Strykers and 700 other vehicles headed for Iraq. The ship and its cargo sailed on March 14.
At least 19 people are charged in Tacoma Municipal Court with a variety of offenses, Assistant City Attorney Jean Hayes said. Most involve failure to obey a police officer. More charges are pending.
Internal Affairs detectives completed their investigation of a run-in between police and University of Puget Sound student Joseph La Sac, but the results have yet to be reviewed and approved by commanders, police spokesman Chris Taylor said.
La Sac complained that a uniformed officer told him he couldn’t use his video camera to film the protest.
The 22-year-old student posted an edited version of the altercation on the Web site YouTube.com under the title “Film is not a Crime.” (http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5896/) On the video, an off-screen police officer is heard telling the student to “shut if off or you’re going to be arrested.”
That’s the kind of specific case the Citizen Review Panel can’t rule on.
But the touchy issue of whether police were prudent or heavy-handed during the anti-war protests can be studied in the larger training and policy context.
“I think it’s a very healthy thing to look at the policy knowing” that the city is getting complaints, King Stargel said.
Any allegations of misconduct by police will be investigated thoroughly, assistant police chief Bob Sheehan said.
Sheehan, who was at the port during each day of the protest, said Tacoma’s officers acted professionally and effectively.
There were some minor injuries, including to a Tacoma officer, but “all in all this was a safe event,” he said.
Time will tell just how effective or powerful the citizens group is at spotting trends and recommending policy changes, La Fond said.
But he added, “I think most of us expect that we will make a significant contribution to the community. I don’t think any of us wants to serve on a board that is ineffective and pro forma.”
What: Meeting of Tacoma’s Citizen Review Panel
When: 5:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Room 16 in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St.
Open to the public? Yes
On the agenda: Tacoma police training and protocols for responding to protests and other such events. The issue of how police handled recent anti-war rallies at the Port of Tacoma is expected to come up, but the panel won’t discuss specific allegations.
Sources: City of Tacoma; News Tribune archives.
PORT PROTEST BY THE NUMBERS
12 days protest lasted
37 arrests made
19 charges filed to date
20 complaints filed with city over police action at the port (Some of the complaints may be duplicates.)
Sources: City of Tacoma; News Tribune archives.--For information about the city’s Conduct Complaint Management System, go to http://www.cityoftacoma.org/complaints.
--Staff writer Stacey Mulick contributed to this report.
DEMONSTRATIONS COST $500,000, POLICE ESTIMATE
By Stacey Mulick
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
April 1, 2007
The bills are still being tallied, but the rough estimate covers overtime and compensation time, equipment, and food costs for hundreds of personnel from Tacoma police and other agencies, Tacoma Police Assistant Chief Bob Sheehan said.
“This was a major event,” he said. “It was a tremendous undertaking.”
A final bill along with a breakdown of all the costs could be completed by the end of the week. The city plans to ask the Port of Tacoma and the military to cover some of the costs.
“That’s a tremendous hit on our budget -- a half million dollars of unexpected expense,” Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma said.
He said he didn’t know how the city would approach the billing but expected the military would get the first invoice.
“I think our request is justifiable,” Baarsma said. “I would expect that we would be reimbursed. I would be surprised if we weren’t.”
Tacoma police beefed up the law enforcement presence at the Port of Tacoma during the convoying and storage of Stryker vehicles from March 3 until a ship carrying the military equipment left for Iraq on March 14.
The activity drew protesters to the port on a nightly basis. Activists belonging to the Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance and other organizations voiced their objections to the war in Iraq. The police were on hand to make sure demonstrators followed the rules and to prevent injury and property damage.
Sheehan said there was an average of 100 to 150 officers on duty at the Port of Tacoma every 12 hours. The number fluctuated, depending on what investigators heard about planned demonstrations. During the 12-day span, law enforcement officers arrested 37 protesters.
The Tacoma Police Department utilized patrol officers, uniformed detectives, commanders, and members of its disorderly response team and bicycle response team at the port. They were assisted by members of the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, the Valley Civil Disturbance Unit, the Bellevue Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard and sheriff’s offices of Pierce, King and Thurston counties. Most of the agencies sent members of their riot squads. [NOTE: The TPD unit's actual name is "Disorder Response Team," though the *News Tribune's "disorderly response team" has a certain aptness to it. -- For more on this unit, see Tim Smith's notes. --M.J.]
The exact number of Tacoma police personnel involved in the Port of Tacoma event was still being calculated. Most were working on overtime.
“We don’t have the staffing to pull police off their assignments to provide security for the Army and the port,” Baarsma said.
Other agencies have tallied up the number of people there:
• The King County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the port on three nights. Sixty-four deputies, 11 sergeants and two captains from the department’s demonstration management team worked those three nights, office spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said.
• The Washington State Patrol had 238 troopers from its rapid deployment force teams stationed at the port over the course of eight nights, agency spokesman Mark Lewis said. Most of the troopers came from Pierce, Thurston and King counties and worked on overtime after their regular patrol shifts, Lewis added.
• The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department sent members of its mobile field force to the port on several nights. The deputies were involved in the negotiated arrests on March 11.
Spokesmen for the three agencies said their involvement in the staffing of the protests was mutual aid. The agencies will not bill the City of Tacoma or Tacoma Police Department for the overtime costs of its deputies and troopers.
“We have a fund for it,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “We are not going to bill Tacoma if they are not going to get reimbursed. If we have an issue like that, they would be there for us.”Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268
Staff writer Kris Sherman contributed to this report.