“I think your style alienates people from your cause more than educate and activate them,” writes a critic.
There comes a point where it becomes more than obvious that those with the responsibility (Public Safety Advisory Committee) to actually perform their duties in keeping with their self- and council-mandated job description: aren’t.
In his book “Boards That Make a Difference,” author John Carver describes the common malady of boards that as to making a difference: don’t.
“Boards often over-involve themselves in the many aspects of a long-range plan rather than isolate and resolutely deal with the very small number of large value issues on which a staff planning process can proceed” (p.32).
Underline “large value issues.”
Hans Finzel, President and CEO of Worldventure, quips that such boards are best comprised of three members – “if two of them are out of town.”
Continuing, Finzel writes in “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make” that “a committee is made up of the unfit trying to lead the unwilling to do the unnecessary” (pp.81, 82).
The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) is not alone.
“Peter Drucker teaches that within a few years of their establishment, most organizations lose sight of their mission and essential role and become focused on methods or efficiency of doing things right rather than on effectiveness or doing the right things” (Stephen R. Covey, “Principle-Centered Leadership” p.245).
The PSAC just happens to be the latest example.
A synopsis of why we’re past the point of pacification:
June 18, 2013 – Patrick O’Meara is killed by officers of the Lakewood Police Department shortly before midnight at a Tillicum residence.
June 24, 2013 – LPD Lt. Chris Lawler supplies a media update with investigation to follow.
July 20, 2013 – This author requests a copy of Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy (UFP) having researched the ACLU’s 2012 investigation of UFP’s of police departments across the country.
July 25, 2013 – Acting Lakewood City Attorney Matt Kaser, in a letter to Lakewood’s Mayor and City Council, suggests a wording change in Lakewood’s applicable weapons law to address a redefinition of what shall heretofore define “weapon” and therefore allowable police response.
August 5, 2013 – Lakewood City Council considers the following ordinance change:
“It is unlawful for anyone to carry, exhibit, display or draw any pistol, rifle, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club or any other
weapon item apparently that appears to be capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”
Both “weapon” and “apparently” are crossed out, while the word “item” and the phrase “that appears to be” are inserted.
August 12, 2013 – A copy of Lakewood’s 16-page UFP having been received, comparing Lakewood’s with the review of UFP’s of police departments across the country as researched by the ACLU, three statements found missing by the ACLU are also lacking in Lakewood’s:
No mention in Lakewood’s UFP preamble that the department’s policy 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 police agency.”
No statement by way of instruction to police officers “that the use of deadly force is an extreme measure to be employed only in the most limited and extraordinary of circumstances.”
No clear emphasis “that an officer may withdraw to a position that is tactically more secure or allows an officer greater distance in order to consider or deploy a greater variety of force options.”
September 5, 2013 – City Council candidate forum at the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association involving John Simpson and Bryan Thomas. Asked their position with regards Lakewood’s UFP they responded as follows:
Simpson said, “I think the LPD must be transparent with regard to its policies on the use of deadly force. Trust is vital in maintaining a healthy relationship between the citizens and their police officers.”
And Thomas: “I believe in complete transparency in City government and to me that does not mean just makings facts available for those who have the time to study the facts. It means that we in City government need to make sure citizens understand the facts and what we believe the long term implications are.”
October 3, 2013 – Lakewood Police found justified in the shooting death of O’Meara.
October 21, 2013 – City Attorney Heidi Wachter promises in an email to David Anderson: “We will review your suggestions (I had spelled out my concern over the three missing statements from Lakewood’s UFP as recommended by the ACLU) and proceed accordingly. 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. It is clear that you believe these changes will benefit the department and we appreciate the opportunity to properly consider your input.”
December 5, 2013 – Bryan Thomas, Chair of the PSAC, is asked at the meeting he is attending of the TWNA for an update on the review of Lakewood’s UFP. Thomas stated that it was “ongoing.” However, in the April 7, 2014 City Council packet, the minutes of the PSAC for the first time are included of the PSAC’s meeting that took place December 4, 2013. It was at that December 4, 2013 meeting – chaired by Thomas – that Lakewood’s UPF was accepted “as is.” That decision of December 4, 2013, that ended further deliberation – if any had ever actually taken place – of Lakewood’s UFP was said to be “ongoing” the very next night to the attendees of the TWNA.
December 20, 2013 – Not knowing the discussion of Lakewood’s UFP had ended (in fact we wouldn’t know until the PSAC minutes were reported to the City Council four months later) the link to the Seattle Times report of the Seattle Police Department’s review of their Use of Force Policy which had just been completed was sent to Bryan Thomas for his committee’s review of Lakewood’s UFP which Thomas had stated on Dec.5 was “ongoing” which, again, we would find out four months later wasn’t.
March 6, 2014 – Thomas is again asked at the regular first Thursday of the month meeting of the TWNA about Lakewood’s UFP review. Thomas again said it was “ongoing.” (And, again, we would not discover it was not in fact ongoing until April 7 but rather that the “review” had ended with a vote of the PSAC the night of their meeting December 4, 2013.)
March 10, 2014 – letter from LPD’s Assist. Chief Michael Zaro to the City Council and cc’d Chief Bret Farrar: “Discussion at a recent meeting of the PSAC indicated some members perceived a lack of direction for their committee.” Heading the list of suggestions for the Council to consider as areas of study for the PSAC: shopping carts.
March 15, 2014 – concerned about some PSAC’s members “perceived lack of direction” as noted in Zaro’s letter and believing the Lakewood UFP review was “ongoing” I wrote an email to both Wachter and Thomas and copied City Councilman Jason Whalen asking for an update on Lakewood’s UFP review status. To this date there has been no response from any of the three.
March 17, 2014 – Lakewood City Council consensus is to direct the PSAC to study shopping carts.