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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99584 Find in a Library
Title: Politics of Police Accountability - The Seattle Police Spying Ordinance as a Case Study (From Politics of Crime and Criminal Justice, P 144-157, 1985, Erika S Fairchild and Vincent J Webb, eds. - See NCJ-99577)
Author(s): S Walker
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examines the nature and impact of the Seattle Police Intelligence Ordinance, which was enacted in 1974 to regulate intelligence gathering by the Seattle Police Department.
Abstract: The ordinance restricts police collection of information on a citizen's political, religious, or private sexual behavior. It also restricts police use of infiltrators and informants as well as the disclosure of nonpublic police information. Any person injured by a violation of the ordinance has a cause of action against the city for civil damages of $500. An organization subjected to illegal infiltration has a cause of action for damages of $1,000. The ordinance provides for an auditor, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, to monitor police compliance with the law at 180-day intervals. Supporters of the ordinance view it as an effective means of balancing police law enforcement interests and citizen privacy interests. Police view the ordinance as an unprecedented restriction of investigative techniques essential to effective law enforcement. The auditor reports full police compliance with the ordinance during the first 4 years after its enactment. Although the ordinance apparently has accomplished its intent, there is potential for willful evasion of the law and subversion of the auditing process. Also, the viability of the ordinance as a model for other municipalities is problematic, since the political climate in Seattle was particularly receptive to this pioneering ordinance. Fourteen notes and 42 refereneces are listed.
Index Term(s): Legislative impact; Municipal ordinances; Police intelligence operations; Right of privacy; Washington
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