Special Reports

Beyond Brame: Reform report card

A black check indicates promises that have been fulfilled. The gray checks indicate some progress has been made.



DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REFORMS



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (black check)

Voluntary domestic violence training for Tacoma city employees

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma City Council

BACKGROUND

In June, then-acting City Manager Jim Walton said he would offer voluntary domestic violence awareness training sessions for city employees.

CURRENT ACTION

About 400 employees voluntarily attended training seminars last summer.

STATUS

Done



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

A domestic violence policy and mandated training for Tacoma city employees

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents, Tacoma City Council

BACKGROUND

In July, domestic violence advocates and others recommended a ban on hiring or promoting employees with a history of domestic violence. They also sought discipline for employees who perpetrate domestic violence and require supervisors to report employees involved in domestic violence.

CURRENT ACTION

City officials are working on a policy that might incorporate the July recommendations. They hope to bring it to a council committee in March and have it approved April 6. Training would follow. Pierce County is working on a similar policy for its employees.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

An independent reporting system for victims of domestic violence involving city employees.

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents, Tacoma City Council-created committee and Crystal Brame's family

BACKGROUND

Victims of police-perpetrated domestic violence say they don't feel safe reporting abuse to 911 or other traditional channels such as domestic violence hot lines, because they believe they are staffed by their abusers' friends. Domestic violence experts suggested creating a secure hot line for not only police spouses and partners, but also partners of any city employee. They reasoned that victims in relationships with people in power would have similar concerns.

CURRENT ACTION

None. A hot line for city employees is not part of any plan currently being studied.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

A public education campaign about domestic violence

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents, Tacoma City Council-created committee

BACKGROUND

Domestic violence advocates say the public needs better education about the problem. City officials discussed creating a public education campaign; so did various community groups.

CURRENT ACTION

None

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

More domestic violence victim advocates in Tacoma

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents, city officials

BACKGROUND

After the Brame shootings, calls to the city's domestic violence victim advocate increased 25 percent to 30 percent. City officials said they wanted better victim advocacy, perhaps even replacing the three paid advocates cut in 1999. Police officials also told the City Council they would like to hire victim advocates.

CURRENT ACTION

The city hired an additional part-time advocate.

STATUS

Partially fulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Better services for domestic violence victims in Pierce County suburbs

WHO WANTED IT

Pierce County and Tacoma officials; domestic violence victim advocates

BACKGROUND

Increased services were part of a five-point plan announced in August by Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and Tacoma City Council members Connie Ladenburg and Rick Talbert. A tax increase that would have paid for staffed centers in several suburbs failed at the polls in November.

CURRENT ACTION

In January, Pierce County opened a "domestic violence kiosk" - a computer - in Gig Harbor. Victims can use it to apply for temporary protection orders. The county plans to open kiosks in Lakewood and East Pierce County soon.

STATUS

Partially fulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

New state law mandating all law enforcement agencies have a policy on officer-involved domestic violence

WHO WANTED IT

Local legislators and activists

BACKGROUND

A committee of local and regional politicians, police representatives, domestic violence advocates and others worked to create a draft law.

CURRENT ACTION

The proposal, in House Bill 2392 and Senate Bill 6161, is being debated in the Legislature. No organized opposition has manifested, and the measure has bipartisan support.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

New federal law tying federal funding to domestic violence programs and procedures

WHO WANTED IT

Crystal Brame's father, Lane Judson

BACKGROUND

By his daughter's bedside as she fought for life, Judson said he dreamed of a law that would have helped her as her marriage collapsed. He proposed a law that would withhold federal funding from any agency that has no policy addressing domestic violence by employees.

CURRENT ACTION

Judson's idea would be difficult to pass, lawmakers' aides say, because Congress is unwilling to threaten people's funding. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Edmonds) and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) are working with domestic violence groups and police agencies on a law that would encourage police agencies to work to prevent, intervene in and end domestic violence in police families.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

A family justice center, also called a one-stop center, to help domestic violence victims

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma and Pierce County leaders

BACKGROUND

Domestic violence victims often have to go to more than two dozen places to navigate the courts and get social services that enable them to leave their abusers. Elsewhere, family justice centers provide all the services in one location. President Bush endorsed the concept last fall, announcing $20 million in grants for centers in 12 communities.

CURRENT ACTION

Pierce County officials are applying to be one of the 12 communities included in the federal grant program. Grant winners will be announced next fall.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Coordinate the Tacoma and Pierce County court systems

BACKGROUND

Now, city and county courts operate independently. Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg believes they should be linked so judges can treat perpetrators consistently and track them no matter where they commit crimes.

CURRENT ACTION

A joint city-county committee is looking for a building that could house domestic violence prosecutors and defenders. Municipal, District and Superior courts would be linked by the county's LINX judicial records system.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

A coordinated, city-county system to track domestic violence perpetrators after they get out of jail

WHO WANTED IT

Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and Tacoma City Council members Connie Ladenburg and Rick Talbert

BACKGROUND

Pierce County has probation officers monitor perpetrators after release; in Tacoma, judges check on perpetrators. The two systems can't be coordinated unless perpetrators are tracked the same way.

CURRENT ACTION

Tacoma officials are considering whether to create a probation system similar to Pierce County's.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



TACOMA POLICE REFORMS



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

Hire an outsider to run the Tacoma Police Department

WHO WANTED IT

Some Tacoma residents, City Manager Ray Corpuz and later interim City Manager Jim Walton

BACKGROUND

Walton searched for outside candidates and narrowed the list to two. The day after the interviews, one withdrew and Walton named assistant chief Don Ramsdell the interim chief.

CURRENT ACTION

Walton has said that as long as he is city manager, Ramsdell will be the police chief. That means the next city manager will hire a permanent police chief. Residents have made it clear they'd like the next chief to come from outside the department.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

New Tacoma Police Department policy on officer-involved domestic violence

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma police officials, City Council members and citizens

BACKGROUND

After the Brame shootings, city and police officials said the police department's policies on officer-involved domestic violence weren't specific enough. Tacoma police officials began following some procedures used in the Chicago Police Department, where independent advocates help victims understand their rights and the department's policies. Chicago also has independent investigators determine whether officers need to be disciplined for domestic violence.

CURRENT ACTION

A committee of local and regional politicians, police, domestic violence advocates and others worked on a new policy with the police department. Tacoma police officials say they are nearly finished, and plan to present it publicly soon.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Civilian oversight of the Tacoma Police Department

WHO WANTED IT

The city's Human Rights Commission; City Council advisory committee.

BACKGROUND

The commission has wanted a civilian oversight agency for 15 years. It has proposed establishing an independent office within City Hall to review Internal Affairs investigations of police officers and setting up a voluntary, five-person review board to monitor police policies and make recommendations about potential changes.

CURRENT ACTION

The commission has presented the proposal to residents in community meetings. It plans to take citizens' comments and the proposal to the Tacoma City Council for action.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (black check)

Work with a consultant to review Tacoma police hiring practices

WHO WANTED IT

Interim Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell.

BACKGROUND

A 2001 audit of the police department recommended changes to its hiring practices. In addition, Ramsdell said he wanted to ensure new hires fit well with the mission of the department.

CURRENT ACTION

The department has standardized the interview portion of the hiring process, provided training to officers who interview job candidates, worked with Human Resources to eliminate cultural bias from its testing and increased recruiting efforts.

STATUS

Completed



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Set up community forums to talk with residents about the police department and its mission

WHO WANTED IT

Interim Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell.

BACKGROUND

Ramsdell has said he wants to hold sessions throughout the city to meet with residents, talk about the department and listen to citizens' concerns.

CURRENT ACTION

Being planned

STATUS

In progress



CITY OF TACOMA REFORMS

o (blank check)

REFORM OR PROMISE

Hire a new city manager

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma City Council

BACKGROUND

The City Council fired City Manager Ray Corpuz in July and elevated deputy city manager Jim Walton to the city's top administrative job. Walton is expected to serve as long as needed. Many City Council members have said they're happy with how Walton has refocused the city's attention on solving a looming budget crisis, economic development and neighborhoods.

CURRENT ACTION

Some council members have asked Walton and his staff to look for a search firm to help find his replacement, but no one has made it a priority. Six months after Corpuz's departure, no search is under way. Many council members have said they expect it would take at least year to find the right person, negotiate pay and benefits and get the person on the job.

STATUS

Unfulfilled.



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Review of the city charter

WHO WANTED IT

The City Council, spurred by the City Club of Tacoma and various citizens groups

BACKGROUND

Mayor Bill Baarsma and others called for an updated review of the charter, adopted in 1953 and last reviewed in 1992, before the Brame shootings. That, combined with the shootings and a grass-roots effort to change the city's form of government, spurred the council to appoint a 15-member Charter Review Committee last fall.

CURRENT ACTION

The committee has until mid-May to scrutinize the charter, discuss possible changes and present them to the City Council. The committee plans public hearings. The City Council must decide whether to put the proposed changes on the November ballot for a decision by voters. The council also can propose changes of its own.

STATUS

In progress



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Audit Tacoma's human resources functions

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents, Tacoma City Council

BACKGROUND

The city has paid for audits of the police and fire departments to see how well they perform. Next up is how well the city hires, promotes and fires its employees. A third audit of some city function would have happened regardless of the Brame scandal, but questions about how the police chief rose to power helped officials settle on this one.

CURRENT ACTION

The City Council is to vote Tuesday on a $120,000 contract for an audit to be completed by June.

STATUS

Pending



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

An independent ethics board for the city

WHO WANTED IT

Seven Tacoma City Council members expressed support for the idea, though some had questions about how it would work.

BACKGROUND

An investigation last year by The News Tribune found the city ill-equipped to answer questions and resolve complaints about potential conflicts of interest among City Council members.

CURRENT ACTION

None. Some council members have said they might take up the issue sometime this year, but nothing has come forward yet.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

A citizens committee in conjunction with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs administrative audit into the Brame scandal. The committee should get first-hand reports from WASPC and offer advice. It also should make recommendations to the Tacoma City Council on changes in city government.

WHO WANTED IT

Tacoma residents

BACKGROUND

The City Council appointed the 21-member Citizens Advisory Panel last summer.

CURRENT ACTION

The committee has met several times, but its work is limited until the WASPC investigation is done.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Investigate members of the Tacoma Police Department and other city agencies suspected of violating administrative policies

WHO WANTED IT

State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, then-Washington State Patrol Chief Ronal Serpas, interim City Manager Jim Walton, interim Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell and Mayor Bill Baarsma

BACKGROUND

After the Brame shootings, city officials promised that independent investigations would seek out wrongdoing in city departments, as well as unethical behavior or poor decisions that might have contributed to the tragedy. They've also promised to follow the investigation trail "wherever it may lead" and widen the probes when necessary.

CURRENT ACTION

The State Patrol conducted a criminal investigation into potential criminal misconduct of Tacoma police officials and others related to the David Brame scandal. No criminal charges resulted, but investigators said they uncovered potential administrative violations involving 32 police and city employees. The city has contracted with the State Patrol to conduct another investigation. The investigative team has been compiled and has started interviewing city employees. When the investigation is completed, the State Patrol will present its findings to Walton.

STATUS

Partially fulfilled

REFORM OR PROMISE

o (blank check)

Find out how David Brame was hired as a police officer and promoted to chief, find out who knew about his marital problems and tainted professional background, and uncover problems in city government that contributed to the Brame shootings and the aftermath.

WHO WANTED IT

City leaders

BACKGROUND

Brame flunked a psychological evaluation before he was hired in 1981. When he was appointed chief, some officials also knew about a rape allegation against him in the late 1980s. Finally, several city and police officials knew his wife had said he had choked her and threatened to kill her. Some city officials believed he was incapable of doing his job as his marriage deteriorated. And there was a high-level discussion about whether Brame should be stripped of his gun and badge the day before the shootings. No action was taken.

CURRENT ACTION

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs will do an administrative audit of city government. It has been put on hold in the past because of the criminal investigations.

The City Council voted in November to restart it. It's unclear how far the investigation has proceeded. A 21-member citizens committee will review the findings and make recommendations to the City Council.

STATUS

Unfulfilled



REFORM OR PROMISE

* (gray check)

Investigate all credible tips regarding public corruption in Tacoma and Pierce County

WHO MADE IT

Mark Ferbrache, special agent with the FBI's public corruption squad in Seattle

BACKGROUND

When the Washington State Patrol conducted a criminal investigation of potential misconduct by members of the Tacoma Police Department, detectives received tips that fell outside of their investigation and forwarded them to the FBI.

CURRENT ACTION

The investigation is continuing, though the FBI is tight-lipped about progress.

STATUS

In progress

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