Lakewood’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – whose deliberations are found on the Lakewood Police Department’s website – may soon survey folks as to where – on the scale presumably of safety since that’s their middle name – shopping carts rank.
Meanwhile, and again speaking of safety, the Lakewood City Council was asked at its meeting this past February 2 to approve an out-of-court settlement of $85,000 to cover the costs of medical care for injuries allegedly suffered by an individual during his arrest by the Lakewood Police Department (LPD).
Also meanwhile (Feb.5), Pierce County police assigned to our nearest neighbor to the west – University Place – were involved in a worst-case scenario in which a fellow they arrested died for which the County has agreed to settle for $750,000.
On the very last page (p.197) of the Council’s most recent agenda, City Manager John Caulfield – following negotiations of the City Attorney with Multicare to resolve a claim filed last July seeking $285,000 in medical costs – sought authorization by the Council (everything over $50,000 requires the Council’s OK) to pay the $85,000 settlement and thus avoid litigation.
Evidently (a Public Disclosure Request has been filed) sometime during the arrest the LPD’s use of force became, well, more forceful than perhaps needed to be used.
But the PSAC, at least as suggested by City Council liaison Marie Barth, wants to know what to do about shopping carts.
As opposed to use-of-force-type stuff.
Under “Unfinished Business” of the minutes of the PSAC this last Dec.3, Barth “suggested posing the question, survey style, on Facebook to find out how important an issue the citizens felt the shopping cart issue was.”
The ‘shopping cart question’ has long been the unfinished business of the PSAC, the directive to study “the shopping cart issue” having come from the Lakewood City Council almost a year ago.
At its meeting on March 17, 2014 (p.008 of 174), after hearing of the PSAC’s struggle to explain its existence given its group-acknowledged purposelessness (a March 10, 2014 letter from LPD’s Assist. Chief Michael Zaro to the City Council and cc’d Chief Bret Farrar read: “Discussion at a recent meeting of the PSAC indicated some members perceived a lack of direction for their committee”), the Council thereupon determined that the PSAC’s top priority should be to “develop a shopping cart ordinance.”
Not the saving of the lives of citizens. Shopping carts.
Not protecting citizens from untoward – and costly – use of force, but shopping carts.
Use of force on the other hand, was dismissed summarily – as it were out-of-hand – by the PSAC.
In a single meeting.
One month (July 20) after Tillicum resident Patrick O’Meara was killed by LPD officers on June 18, 2013 a formal review of Lakewood’s Use of Force Policy (UFP) was requested.
Three months later (October 21) City Attorney Heidi Wachter promised “to properly consider” that policy.
But on the night of December 4, 2013, in all of two words – with no subsequent documentation nor anything at all of substance produced indicating they’d done their due diligence to keep Wachter’s promise – the PSAC voted to accept Lakewood’s UFP: “as is.”
Though the Seattle Times would report that December 20th that the Seattle Police Department’s UFP had undergone extensive review;
Though now the Pierce County Sheriff’s department will do likewise;
Though now Lakewood’s Police Department has racked up some medical costs of its own being charged for inflicting injuries during an arrest;
Yet now, still, nearly a year hence, the PSAC’s shopping cart wheels are still spinning, still proving somehow dangerous, still somewhere illusive and – some might ask why – still a most serious safety issue concern.
Meanwhile, “Our communities cry out when use of force is juxtaposed against the community’s expectation of necessity. They reasonably ask, was there another way that officers could have defused the situation? Was the use of force consistent with the level of threat confronting the officers?
“The citizens have the right to expect that the use of force is the option of last resort for law enforcement officers.”
But as long as consumers’ use of shopping carts consume the PSAC’s think-tank time – as directed by the Council – the citizens expectations with regards the legitimate use of force will go unmet.