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Policing Accountability & Transparency

TPD’s 12 Point Accountability and Transparency Improvement Plan

 The Tacoma Police Department (TPD) and City of Tacoma leaders are committed to creating a just and transparent model of public safety that reflects and aligns with our community. There are many impactful initiatives City leaders and the Tacoma Police Department have implemented in recent years to improve public safety, to innovate and offer alternative responses to emergencies, and to build community trust in TPD, its officers, and the City overall. 

 

1. Use of Force—Improved Accountability and Transparency

(Completed, operational) 

  • 1.A. Use of Force Policy: Updated in November 2022, TPD revised its Use of Force Policy which now requires officers to intervene when they observe excessive use of force by another officer, bans chokeholds, requires de-escalation, bans shooting at moving vehicles, requires warning before shots are fired, and more. Additionally, it expands the training required beyond what the attorney general suggested and state law mandates. 
  •  1.B. Deadly Force Review Board: The Deadly Force Review Board, with six voting members that include two citizen representatives, reviews investigations of incidents involving deadly force, and the board determines if the application of deadly force was within department policy. The board may also examine significant training and equipment issues. The board then reports its findings to the Chief of Police, and these reports may include recommendations to further investigate the incident.
  •  1.C. PCFIT Investigations: When Tacoma Police Officers are involved in incidents that include deadly use of force, the incident is referred to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team (PCFIT) for independent investigation. Members of the public can view the investigation records, news releases, and other public documents released by the independent investigation team and by TPD’s internal review team by visiting the City’s Use of Force web page. These documents are added to the web page periodically as the investigation unfolds and the documents are made available  

2. Comprehensive TPD Policy Review

(In progress) 

 

TPD is currently undergoing a comprehensive review and revision of all Department Policies to ensure TPD’s operations are fair, that they align with industry best practices and guidance, that they are consistent with the latest changes in state and federal laws and court decisions, and that our policies better reflect community expectations of officer conduct and interaction with the public.  

 

This work is being done with the help of Lexipola nationwide company that provides a full library of customizable state-specific law enforcement policies.  Additionally, the new policies will incorporate suggestions and recommendations offered as part of an assessment completed by the Community’s Police Advisory Committee 

  • Progress Report - January 2024: 

  • Pending: 25%

  •  Review in progress: 57%

  •  Completed: 18% 

 

3. 21st Century Policing Solutions Recommendations

(In progress) 

 

TPD continues to implement the recommendations from 21st Century Policing Solutions on how TPD can lead 21st Century Policing in Anti-Racism. The report, issued in March 2021, includes 69 recommendations spanning all aspects of policing and the department structure, including revising use of force policies and procedures, improving officer accountability, optimizing the department’s organizational structure, improving officer training, support and wellness, and more. 

 

4. Bias-Free Policing – Data Pilot Program

(In progress)

  

TPD is currently analyzing the results of a pilot data collection program using the existing Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD) system. Officers who participated in the pilot entered the demographic data they observed about the community members they encountered when responding to calls for service 

 

While the pilot data is still being analyzed and the effectiveness still being evaluated, the hope is that a program based on this pilot will use community demographic data relating to police encounters that will support bias-free policing. During this evaluation phase, the program has been paused. Once the data is evaluated to ensure it supports bias-free policing, the program will resume. 

 

5. TPD Crime Data Dashboard

(Completed, operational) 

 

In December 2023, TPD launched the Tacoma Police Crime Dashboard with comprehensive data that spans five years and analytical tools that compare and contrast data sets by various time periods, by neighborhood, by crime category, and much more. Updated each business day with new data, the dashboard can help you track trends and analyses almost in real-time. 

Creating a publicly available data dashboard reflects the Department’s commitment to public accountability and transparency, and represents the fulfillment of specific recommendations from the TPD 21st Century Policing Solutions report. 

 

6. Violent Crime Reduction Plan

(In progress)

  

TPD is focused on reducing crime through its Violent Crime Reduction Plan, a product of work by TPD analysts and experienced criminologists from the University of Texas, San Antonio. The plan uses robust scientific methodology and placed-based data with proven success in other major cities.

 

The Violent Crime Reduction Plan does NOT employ tactics that involve over-policing, “stop and frisk,” or “zero-tolerance policing”, but rather a specific approach to minimizing violence in certain geographic areas based on heavily analyzed place-based data that drives a detailed, customized police response to reduce crime rates in designated “hot spots.   

 

TPD promotes transparency and accountability by reporting quarterly to the City Council on the progress of the program and improvements in crime rates in the targeted geographic “hot spots, demonstrating to the community that science- and data-based policing techniques encourages greater fairness in policing while still achieving crime reduction goals.

 

7. Body Cameras and Dash Cameras

(In progress) 

 

TPD is close to completing the deployment of Body Cameras and Dash Cameras across the department. It’s estimated that more than 80% of police departments and agencies in the U.S. use either Body Cams or Dash Cams or both as of 2023. There is overwhelming evidence that the use of Body Cams by police improves accountability, improve evidentiary outcomes, enhances safety for all parties, and improves interactions between police and community members. 

  • Body Worn Cameras, commonly called Body Cams, were introduced in January 2021. Officers are required to activate the recording function of the body worn camera when they engage with the public in their law enforcement capacity.

  • In-Car Cameras, commonly called Dash-Cameras or Dash Cams, were installed in most TPD patrol vehicles in September 2023. The remaining vehicles will have cameras installed once they arrive from the vendor in the next several months. If you see a camera in a patrol vehicle on the street today, those cameras are functional and recording.

 

8. Reflect & Protect Officer Recruiting Campaign

(Completed, operational)

  

One way to improve accountability and transparency in policing is to build more trust between community members and the officers who serve them. To that end, TPD introduced the Reflect & Protect officer recruiting campaign that actively seeks officer candidates with diverse experiences and backgrounds that mirror the rich diversity of the Tacoma community.  

 

The ultimate goal goes beyond just fully staffing the department—TPD is building a department culture with officers of exceptional character who care for and respect the community they serve. TPD strives for more positive interactions between officers and the community members they encounter because of shared backgrounds and experiences. TPD seeks more officers to join our team who have a personal understanding of historic discrimination and traumas experienced by BIPOC community members, LGBTQ+ community members, and other diverse groups during police encounters 

 

9. Community Service Officers (CSOs)

(In progress)

  

TPD is developing a Community Service Officer (CSO) program, which is a new non-commissioned public safety response for non-violent incidents. The first class of CSOs is expected to begin field training in early Spring of 2024. 

 

Once their training is complete, CSOs will respond to and prepare incident reports for calls for service that are not in progress, that are routine in nature, where a suspect is not on the scene, and where there is no immediate threat. CSOs will not have arrest authority beyond that granted by state law to a private citizen. CSOs shall not carry or possess a firearm while discharging their official duties. 

 

10. TPD Liaisons to City Committees, Boards and Commissions, and to Community

  • Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC)CPAC is a policy-focused committee that will help to ensure transparency and accountability in the way that the City of Tacoma Police Department operates. The Committee also provides community outreach and education through public hearings and committee efforts. It also is responsible for reviewing police policy at the request of the City Council or City Manager, receiving and reviewing policy complaints by members of the public, and providing advice to the City Council, the City Manager and the Chief of Police on policy matters. 

  • TPD provides a uniformed officer liaison (lieutenant) to CPAC who assists the volunteer members with the complaint review process and records review. (Completed, operational) 

  • As of January 2024, the City Manager’s Office is developing a position description for a civilian liaison position to the CPAC who would perform the following functions per TMC 1.06.075 (in progress): 

  • Receive and forward community-initiated conduct complaints to TPD; 

  • Ensure complainants are notified that their complaint has been received and forwarded and that they are informed of all findings; 

  • Produce statistical reports; 

  • Serve as a liaison to the CPAC; 

  • Other duties related to implementation of this section, as may be assigned by the City Manager. 

  • Commission on Immigration & Refugee Affairs (CIRA): The purpose of CIRA is to better engage Tacoma’s immigrant and refugee communities and to work with community partners to identify and advance positive outcomes for members of this population. 

  • TPD provides a liaison who addresses concerns related to local law enforcement activities that may impact immigrant and refugee communities. (Completed, operational)

  • LGBTQ Community Liaisons: These community liaison officers cultivate ongoing dialogue and gather input directly from LGBTQ+ community members about concerns, work collaboratively to identify solutions, and educate about recommended safety measures and available resources. The LGBTQ liaison officers also serve as an internal resource for the department on issues of inclusiveness. (Completed, operational) 

 

11. Community Safety Action Strategy

 (In progress)

 

The City’s Community Safety Action Strategy is currently under development with the City’s Office of StrategyThe action strategy is comprehensive, long-term approach to community safety that goes beyond policing and crime enforcement with a four-pronged approach: 

  • Co-create Healthy PLACES and Neighborhoods: Support economic and environmental conditions that make Tacoma feel safe for everyone to live, learn, work and play. 

  • Invest in PEOPLE to create belonging and prevention: Support focused approaches to specific community needs to create a sense of safety and belonging. 

  • RESPOND Effectively and with Care: Act with respect and understanding to address community safety needs. 

  • Promote Healing and REPAIR: Support individuals, families, and neighborhoods to overcome trauma, rebuild relationships, and work towards a community where everyone belongs 

 

12. New Contract with Tacoma Police Union, Local 6, I.U.P.A.

 (Completed)

 

On January 16, 2024, the Tacoma City Council ratified the newest collective bargaining agreement between the City and Tacoma’s police union. Along with the revised salary and benefit schedules, the labor contract includes two revisions that will improve officer accountability and rebuild trust with the community: 

  • If an officer charged with a felony crime, the Chief of Police will now be required to place officer on unpaid leave (vs. paid leave under previous contract agreements).  

  • The Chief of Police now has the flexibility to complete an internal investigation at the same time a criminal investigation is ongoing. An internal investigation includes actions like conducting officer interviews, completing internal investigations and fact-finding, and determining if a policy violation occurred which would warrant discipline.  



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