We have learned today that the Washington State Patrol has completed its investigation of the Manuel Ellis case and turned its report over to the State of Washington Attorney General’s office for review and action.
The Ellis family specifically requested an independent state investigation, and I want to thank the Washington State Patrol for their efforts in fulfilling this request.
As this case now moves to the Attorney General’s Office, Manuel Ellis’ family has been living without answers since March and has asked for expediency in bringing this issue to resolution. I want to acknowledge the grief of both the family and our community, and ask the Attorney General’s Office to prioritize a thorough and impartial review of this case.
We do not need the outcomes of the Attorney General’s review to know that the systems built up around policing have disparate outcomes not just in Tacoma but across the nation, and the City Council and I have heard the community’s cries for change. We are taking action to address the need for transformation, and Local 6 – our police union – has indicated their support for addressing systemic racism.
Tacoma is undergoing a transformation. That is not an empty promise. The City Council and I have committed to making transformation happen in our city and we are already making changes.
We are hiring and training staff now who will help us to implement body worn cameras in the Tacoma Police Department in January, and we have already implemented policies based on Eight Can’t Wait. We’ve also begun contract negotiations with our police union that will include reforms, and analysis on what kinds of calls for service might be diverted to other kinds of community responders is underway.
We are currently recruiting a transformative leader to be our next Chief of Police, and you can share your feedback through November 20 on what you want to see in your next chief. Our efforts to make meaningful change will not stop with policing.
As part of the Heal the Heart of Tacoma initiative, the City Council and I will be appointing a core coordinating team that will support a community-led systems transformation effort.
Every department at the City of Tacoma has been called on to create a Racial Equity Action Plan to guide operations over the next two years, and the City Manager has worked to develop our organization’s first anti-racist budget. I want to be clear that this is a budget we can amend as needed over the next two years based on internal and community-led work to become an anti-racist Tacoma.
These are just the first steps. We know that this work must be sustained over time, and the City Council and I remain steadfast and dedicated to ongoing systems transformation that will eradicate the impacts of systemic racism.
I know the Ellis family and Tacoma residents have been waiting anxiously for resolution on this case. So have I. The City Council, City staff, and I do not know what is contained in the Washington State Patrol report, and we will respect the independence of any discussions between the State Patrol and the Attorney General’s Office. We will continue to wait with you to learn the results of the Attorney General’s review. While we do not know what the Attorney General will decide, I do know how the City will respond.
Once the Attorney General’s Office has completed their review and released their records, the City of Tacoma will begin its own independent administrative review processes. With any outcome, the City Council and I will support our City Manager and her staff’s effort to access case records, review the facts, determine if this case involved violations of our policing procedures and policies, and take any necessary action.
Additionally, we will seek any insights that will help us forward the work of transformation. To this end, our City Manager will work with the community and the Tacoma Police Department to determine what policies and training must be changed to help prevent harm or loss of life to individuals in police custody in the future. The City will then work transparently to implement those changes.
What we learn from this investigation will help us continue to make meaningful change. It will be an important part of the work we have embarked on to make Tacoma a better place for all our residents.