Academic researchers found that minority groups, particularly Native Americans, were being searched at a much higher rate than whites. Analysis of open-records requests, data from millions of traffic stops, and interviews with law enforcement officials and civil rights experts has shown that this trend has continued over the past twelve years, exacerbating existing tensions between police and the communities they patrol.
After InvestigateWest’s revelations last month about how Native Americans were searched at a rate five times higher than white motorists, the State Patrol and the Washington Legislature are weighing in. From funding new studies to calls for more diverse hiring, the agencies are planning to address the issue.
Newly proposed legislation in the Washington Legislature would require waterfront homeowners along Puget Sound’s 2,500-mile shoreline to consider fish-friendly fixes when replacing concrete seawalls. Proponents believe it’s the best opportunity to soften the Sound’s shores and jumpstart populations of forage fish that feed juvenile Chinook salmon, the preferred food of endangered orcas. The building lobby and others aren’t convinced.
In addition to the shortage of foster homes in Washington state, foster parents often cite retaliation by state case workers as a major issue. Widespread enough to be acknowledged by state child-welfare officials, these punitive measures can involve threats to remove foster children or reduce monthly state support payments. This is creating a culture of fear among foster parents and further exacerbate the foster care crisis in Washington state.
In the midst of the ongoing crisis in the Washington foster care system, foster parents have few options when faced with what they consider retaliation. Officials from the Department Children, Youth and Families, Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds, Republican Senator Steve O’Ban and Democractic Rep. Tana Senn weigh in on whether foster parents should be afforded whistleblower protections.
The more than 20 environmental groups that make up the Environmental Priorities Coalition lobbying the 2020 Washington Legislature are focusing on clean fuels, greenhouse gas standards, improving salmon habitat and banning one-use plastic shopping bags.
In our Driving While Indian project, InvestigateWest used data obtained by Stanford University’s Open Policing Project to look at the demographics of who state troopers stop and how often they’re searched. Focusing on searches that weren’t required by statute or policy, we compared the search rates to how often contraband was found in order to determine bias. We found that Native Americans are being searched at a rate more than five times higher than the rate at which white motorists are searched.
Even though the Washington Legislature’s 2019 session was momentous, there’s still work to be done, which is why the legislature is going into their 2020 session with four priorities: clean fuels, climate limits, plastic bags and orcas. Among these efforts, the clean fuels proposition has been met with the most pushback from opponents.
Native American motorists pulled over by the Washington State Patrol are more than five times more likely than white motorists to be searched. Rates are also elevated for black and Latino drivers. This story explores potential solutions to police bias, mostly implicit, that leads to this situation nationwide.
Inmates at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex who are alumni of the foster-care system convened a conference that brought together officials of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Treehouse, a retired King County Juvenile Court Judge and members of the community to talk about ending the foster-care-to-prison pipeline.