City of Kent seeks police data collection consultant

To help determine whether department’s policies and practices result in discriminatory enforcement

The city of Kent plans to hire a data collection consultant for up to $50,000 to help determine whether its police department’s policies and practices result in discriminatory enforcement.

Police Chief Rafael Padilla put out a request for proposal on Feb. 26 in an effort to receive bids by a March 26 application deadline. Padilla hopes to pick a consultant by April 5 to begin the race and equity data collection project.

The work, to be done within 90 days, will include:

1. Conducting an assessment of current best practices by law enforcement and government entities, including identifying policies and procedure, leading data collection and analysis systems being utilized and cost analysis for implementation

2. Assessing current data collection capabilities of the Kent Police to determine gaps

3. Facilitate stakeholder discussions to capture input from community members, elected officials, police command staff and city administration. These stakeholder discussions should gather data to answer the following questions:

a. What question(s) are we attempting to answer utilizing the data?

b. What data needs to be collected to answer those questions?

c. How should the Kent Police deliver a report out on the data and to whom?

Consultant findings will include:

1. Written report incorporating the research results for items number 1-3 of the process with recommendations

2. Presentation of report with question and answer session to stakeholder groups

In response last fall to protests locally and nationally against officer-involved killings of people of color, the City Council decided it didn’t want to defund the police department but rather look at ways to improve how officers serve a diverse community and where changes might need to be made.

The council approved in October to spend $50,000 out of the 2021-2022 general fund reserves for a police data analysis consultant.

Padilla said he plans to take the steps the consultant recommends.

“I intend to capture action items we can deliver,” Padilla said in a Feb. 9 report about hiring a police data consultant to the council at its Committee of the Whole meeting. “We will look at the cost analysis for items, and come back with a proposal with what we would implement right away.”

Padilla said he wasn’t sure what the costs might be for any next steps after the consultant’s report.

“I don’t expect it to be expensive, but I don’t know that,” Padilla said.

Council members said last year they hoped the state Legislature would approve funds for a statewide police data collection, but they didn’t want to wait for the state before taking action at the local level.

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