Dunk tanks – based upon both the volume of water they hold and the volume of words by which the members of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) held-forth in discussing dunk tanks – evidently matter more than a discussion of the Lakewood Police Department’s Use of Force Policy (UFP).
The April 2nd minutes of the PSAC – as found in the May 19 Agenda Packet (p.024) for the Lakewood City Council – contain 108 words dedicated to in-depth dunk tank deliberations.
With more to come.
Shallow, in contrast, were the 79 words by which the PSAC dispensed with as unnecessary the inclusion of life-over-deadly-force preambles missing from the Lakewood Police Department’s UFP back on December 4th.
With ‘safety’ their middle name after all, the PSAC should most definitely concern itself with the safety issues of dunk tank operation.
“Grasping the seat could result in pinched fingers when the seat falls, and holding on to the side of the tank or enclosure could cause arm and shoulder injuries when falling in. There is also a slight risk of slipping on the bottom of the tank, so some rental companies recommend wearing shoes or sandals when getting dunked. However, most people prefer not to wear footwear in a dunk tank, and instead remember to ‘fall forward’, to avoid hitting a body part on part of the tank assembly.”
However, none of the 88 words above about safety concerned the safety committee.
Cost and profit margins did.
Price comparisons of one dunk tank provider over another; how much the public should pay to play the dunk tank at Summerfest; whose commitments from the Lakewood Police Department’s “Command Staff” can be obtained to sit behind the fence-like protector – resembling a jail cell – so that the person sitting on the seat isn’t hit from a stray ball missing the target; and who will be in charge of the money collected are all “things we need to work on next month” said PSAC Chairman Bryan Thomas.
Not unlike when the target is struck and the seat becomes un-hinged thus dropping the victim into the tank, the PSAC and the Lakewood City Council which directs such discussion have likewise become unhinged.
How else to explain number one on the list of ideas “Councilmember Marie Barth read off of ideas the Chief of Police and the City Council had come up with as options for future projects for the PSAC”:
“Shopping carts. What happens after they are picked up.”
Dunk tanks and shopping carts receive more attention of the ‘safety’-middle-name committee than Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy?
Dunk tanks and shopping carts are next-for-further-study issues as directed by the Council by which to provide purpose and meaning for this struggling-to-explain-its-
The self-described PSAC think tank will study dunk tanks?
This June 18 will be the one-year anniversary of the death of twenty-eight-year-old Patrick O’Meara who was killed by Lakewood Police in a felony theft arrest attempt at a residence in Tillicum. O’Meara was thought to have been holding a weapon which turned out later to be a toy gun.
This writer’s follow-up investigation of the Lakewood Police Department’s Use of Force Policy found that the 16-page document did not include a preamble or mission statement the purpose of which “is to communicate both to the community and to police officers that the preservation of human life is at all times a central tenet of the policy agency.”
Nor is there reference to “the use of deadly force as an extreme measure to be employed only in the most limited and extraordinary of circumstances.”
Nor is there – as clear and as underlined and as emphatic as it might be – a de-escalation step that might offer the officers the vantage point of a greater distance in order to consider or deploy a greater variety of options.
All these recommendations – that were the result of a 2012 ACLU investigation of the Use-of-Force Policies of police departments across the country and found wanting in Lakewood’s UFP – prompted an inquiry to Wachter to which she promised in an email dated October 21, 2013:
“We are obligated to employ a process that respects those on staff with the expertise to propose policy and those on our Boards, Commissions and Council who have been appointed and elected to authorize policy.”
But on December 4, 2013, when Thomas asked his fellow members of the Public Safety Advisory Committee whether they had “any questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue (Use of Force), no one had anything to add.”
Whereupon Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy was accepted “as is.”
And thus with all of 79 words, any change to – much less further deliberation about – Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy was summarily dismissed.
Dunk tanks on the other hand are at 108 words.
And shopping carts.
Ironically, at the same meeting of the PSAC – the day after April Fool’s Day – one of the members of the PSAC is recorded in the minutes as having gone to the Seattle Police Department’s website “to look into how they promote diversity recruitment.”
It is this same Seattle Police Department that is the very department – should a member of the PSAC have bothered to check – that recently underwent a “sweeping set of policy changes that describe when the use of force is appropriate,” implementing and replicating a near exact version of the ACLU’s recommendations.
The recommendations missing from Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy.
The recommendations the Public Safety Advisory Committee dismissed out of hand.
Because the PSAC has more important matters to discuss as directed by the City Council.
Dunk tanks and shopping carts.