“Tacoma Police Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine have voluntarily agreed to separate from their positions with the Tacoma Police Department,” wrote Tacoma Police Department Chief Avery Moore.
“Meanwhile, except for a sustained finding regarding Officer Collins’ violation of the Tacoma Police Department’s policy on Courtesy, the Officers were cleared based on 2020 policies. The Use of Force policy in place in March of 2020 failed to serve the best interests of the police department or the community. However, because it was policy at the time, it guided my decisions announced today. That policy has since been superseded by a new policy. Additionally, the Tacoma Police Department is actively undergoing a comprehensive overhaul of its policies with support from Lexipol and the Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC). Currently, 30 policies have undergone revision, with 10 nearing completion, aligning with the overarching goal of a complete and thorough policy transformation to better serve the community and enhance law enforcement practices.
“While acknowledging our incomplete achievement of reform goals in the past decade, the last two years have witnessed substantial efforts to revolutionize the Tacoma Police Department, placing a strong emphasis on fostering inclusivity and pride among all stakeholders. These strides are a result of a collective endeavor.
“I acknowledge the detrimental impact of policing on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, extending both a personal and collective apology. My awareness of the historical context of policing includes acts of oppression, abuse, and dehumanization, all carried out under the color of law. Additionally, I recognize the atrocities spanning the last 30 years up to the present. I am committed to acknowledging and taking responsibility, adamantly refusing to condone or turn a blind eye to such heinous acts.”
City Manager Elizabeth Pauli on Voluntary Agreement of Tacoma Police Officers Burbank, Collins, and Rankine to Resign From the Tacoma Police Department
“The City of Tacoma and former Tacoma Police Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine have entered into voluntary resignation agreements, separating all three from City service. These agreements support a responsible, constructive path forward for our community and the Tacoma Police Department. With faith in our city’s enduring resilience and strength, I acknowledge that healing throughout Tacoma will require time, open dialogue, and shared respect. I both support and have confidence in Chief Avery Moore, his commitment, and his ability to create a culture in the Tacoma Police Department that relies on positive community relationships, accountability and transparency.”
A Statement From Mayor Victoria Woodards Regarding Administrative Decisions on Tacoma Officers
“The death of Manuel Ellis in 2020 brought intense heartbreak and renewed urgency to the long-standing need for meaningful police reform in Tacoma. No one has felt this heartbreak and this urgency more than the family and friends of Manuel Ellis.
“On January 16, Police Chief Avery Moore and City Manager Elizabeth Pauli shared their administrative decisions. I want to be clear that this is not the end of the commitments that the City Council made when it passed Resolution 40622.
“We have made many changes to ensure the City of Tacoma is leading with equity, and that our police department’s practices reflect the values of our community, including:
- Hiring Chief Avery Moore, a Police Chief that understands that effective policing must be rooted in care and compassion,
- Overhauling and expanded our use of force policy. That policy now goes beyond what the Attorney General’s model policy or state law require,
- Outfitting our officers with Body-Worn Cameras and In-Car Cameras, and
- Advancing Alternative Responses by creating a new, unarmed Community Service Officer position – providing the right response for the call.
“This is a partial list, and we know we still have a lot of work to do. As we look at our next steps, one area of focus will be community oversight. We will work closely with the Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) and anything we do together will be deeply informed and coordinated by their partnership and recommendations.
“We are creating a position now that will serve as a liaison and consult with CPAC to proactively increase transparency. In the weeks to come, I look forward to opening a conversation with CPAC to ensure all police policies serve the community equitably, which includes ongoing opportunities to review policy, so they reflect the current best practices.
“Regardless of what changes have been, or will be made, these last four years have been long and weighty. The life of Manuel Ellis has been lost, and an entire community has been affected. I promise you, we are moving forward.
“I believe in the strength of our community and, together, we will engage in hard conversations, emerge stronger, and chart a path to healing in the face of what we know will be great challenges. Together, we can move forward, united in our commitment to heal and build a better future for all and remembering the past so we will not repeat it.”
A Statement From Council Member Catherine Ushka Regarding Police Chief’s Recent Announcement
“It’s been a very long four years as an elected leader representing a diverse community, not being able to speak on or to even know what was happening in the investigation of Manuel Ellis’ death. I can’t count the sleepless nights, the tears, the wanting to reach out to people with empathy and compassion while we didn’t even know facts. Before being an elected official, I am a human being. This tragedy has rippled through to every corner of our collective consciousness – mine included. I know that these officers were largely cleared because the policy at the time allowed for that kind of behavior. Just because something is legal does not make it right. We have better policy now- but that doesn’t take away the loss – particularly for Manuel Ellis’ family.
“I also want to say that I stand in solidarity with all my colleagues of color tonight who have and do experience the horrific impacts of systemic and outright racism daily – and with Black people throughout our community who experience the same. As a white woman I am accountable for how we respond to the atrocities of history 200 years ago, three years ago, and today. Too many things shouldn’t have happened, shouldn’t be happening. These last three years have felt like we were held captive, and it is time to break free from that. I am committed to elevating my colleagues’ voices, hearing, and acting and continuing to speak out – ending or transforming systemic and blatant racism is all of our responsibility, and particularly that of white people – after all, we created it.
“As a representative of District 4, I can tell you that six years ago when a young Black man died on my side of town it may not have even hit the news, so God-willing perhaps at least we have greater collective awareness now. Perhaps now, at least here in Tacoma, we can admit that racism is real and that only we have the power to change it. I have a lot of hope that we will do better, and I am committed to tangible change.
“I am committed to always working to be a better ally and invite those listening to do the same, if this is Day 1 or if you have been at it for a while. Even in the discomfort of not knowing the ‘right’ thing to do, trying is the right thing. Not allowing yourselves (or myself) to be numb to this or get comfortable is the right thing.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve beside, and be in service to, the great leaders you saw at the dais last night. And I am grateful to the Mayor for the opportunity to speak.”
Statement by Council Member Jamika Scott Regarding Police Chief’s Announcement
“The Police Chief announced on January 16 that, while it has cleared Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine based on 2020 policies, these officers have voluntarily agreed to separate and will no longer be serving on our streets.
“I think it is critical that we reflect on what it means that, in 2020, our policies provided for no accountability. We need to ask ourselves why, and why it took such a tragic incident to spark more police accountability. I believe that we need to take a hard look at the ways marginalized communities have been disproportionally impacted by harm for generations in our city. We need to have hard conversations about the roots of these issues so that we can address them appropriately and come together around shared goals.
“As we move forward, I aim to help our city engage in conversations about the impact that the death of Manuel Ellis has had on our community with the hopes that those conversations can help lead to tangible actions to start broader healing. I know people in our community want to heal and that they need space where they can share their authentic perspectives. I also believe that we must understand not just what happened to Manuel Ellis that night, but what happened in our community to lead to this outcome.
“We need to understand how our policies and culture contributed to the death of Manuel Ellis. We will honor Manuel Ellis only when we change the systems that shaped the course of his life and death.
“Tacoma has already updated and begun implementing important new policies and practices to bolster community safety. We have launched ground-breaking alternative emergency response programs, and we are working on various new efforts for accountability and transparency.
“I am proud to be born and raised in Tacoma. We need to give the issue of community safety our full attention now. If there is one thing I know about our city, it is that we will come together when we face challenges. We are a creative and collaborative city, and we are not afraid of change or hard work.”
Statement by Council Member Kiara Daniels Regarding Final Administrative Decisions on Three Tacoma Officers
“I want to ensure we use this moment following the final administrative decision on the three Tacoma officers to reflect on how the death of Manuel Ellis has shined a light on deep-rooted challenges our community faces. As a city, we must not continue to shy away from the difficult conversations we need to have to move forward.
“I also want to share how the lack of effective policies have impacted me personally as a Black leader in this city. I have been questioning so many fundamentals about our society to try to understand why Black and Brown people continue to experience so much harm. I want to understand why our city and country have allowed violence against its own people and why – 60 years after the civil rights movement – we need to continue to advocate for basic rights.
“I want to know why we must bargain for the right to live. I am also disturbed by efforts to rationalize and sensationalize Black death. I want to tell our community that I hear their calls for change, and I am committed to advocating for reform. I know that, together, we can build a city we are all proud of.”
A Statement From Council Member Olgy Diaz on Police Chief’s Announcement Regarding Separation of Three Tacoma Police Officers
“The too long-awaited announcement by our Police Chief on January 16 about the separation of three Tacoma police officers from City employment is an important step in the process of justice for Manuel Ellis.
“This separation comes after the resolution of a needed investigation, but this is not the final resolution for our community.
“It is my hope that our community continue to work with us to improve our systems and build back belief and trust.
“Closing this chapter is important for our community’s ongoing healing and for our police department’s ongoing reforms to take hold.
“When I took my oath of office just last week for my first full term, I swore to uphold our City charter and our state and federal constitutions.
“I take the weight of upholding what’s right in our democratic systems and constantly fixing what is flawed in our institutions very seriously and it’s frankly why I sought to serve.
“I believe that our systems must be constantly adjusted to be responsive to community needs and best practices in our various services.
“As a Latina, I know firsthand that many of our government systems were not only built without certain communities in mind, but that many were built with the intention of harming and othering BIPOC communities and those furthest from power.
“Just last week, border patrol agents in Texas refused to help migrants crossing the Rio Grande and instead watched as a woman and her two children drowned. This kind of blatant disregard for human life is inhumane and not something that should be sanctioned under any government.
“I am tired of our government’s broken systems, policies and processes being the difference between life and death for those outside of power and without historic access to justice.
“It is my goal to continue the police reform work my Council colleagues and City officials have started since the death of Manuel Ellis and stop the discovery of cracks in our systems on the backs of Black and Brown Tacomans.
“I hear the pain in community’s voice and I feel it, because none of us are free from harm if our systems are not constantly reviewed and adjusted to reflect the humanity of our residents.
“Further, I look forward to learning more about the findings of U.S. Attorney’s Office review of the state’s case surrounding Manny Ellis’ death.
“We should not, and I do not, fear additional scrutiny of our processes, but rather welcome it as opportunity for growth, healing, and improvements.
“It is my hope that continuous improvement of our practices and policies will bring about more trust and safety in our community and I will do my part in helping make all Tacomans feel safer through our work on Council.”