Clemans, who has sandy blond hair and wide blue eyes and walks with the stooped gait of someone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer, taught himself to code HTML at age 8.Home-schooled as a teenager to escape bullying, he was editing web pages for a hospital, where a friend from his parents’ church worked, by 14.A former naval officer in her 60s, Perry was small and soft-spoken and favored pearls, and she was the city’s unrivaled expert in the seemingly mundane intricacies of the state’s Public Records Act.She was briefing the room on the potential fallout from a landmark case she had just argued and lost before the Washington State Supreme Court.Perry feared that the new flood of data, especially but not exclusively video, could bankrupt Seattle if someone requested it all.
She asked for user manuals to the department’s new system of in-car dashboard cameras, then for lists of dashcam recordings, then for some of the recordings themselves.Washington State agencies cannot deny requests for records because the requester is anonymous or the request is too broad, nor can they deny requests simply in order to protect an individual’s privacy; instead, agencies must redact only the details deemed sensitive under state code — for example, some addresses, sometimes the face of a minor — and disclose the rest.Before the court, Perry had argued that a different law, the state’s Privacy Act, which allows departments to withhold recordings until related criminal or civil cases are resolved, should take precedent and the Seattle Police should be allowed to broadly deny Vedder’s requests until the relevant statute of limitations ran out. As Perry now told Wagers and the officials gathered in the chief’s conference room, Seattle and other departments across the state were operating in a new reality.n his first day on the job in the Seattle Police Department, Mike Wagers was invited to an urgent meeting about transparency. in criminal justice from Rutgers, was the Seattle department’s new chief operating officer, a 42-year-old civilian in jeans and square-rimmed glasses.It was July 28, 2014, little more than a week after Eric Garner was killed on Staten Island, less than two weeks before Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., and police departments around the country were facing a new era of public scrutiny. He’d left his wife and two kids in Virginia and come alone to Seattle, a city he didn’t know — where it rained but cultural norms, he’d read, didn’t allow you to use an umbrella — because the job was what he called “the chance of a lifetime.” Seattle was the first big-city police department in a decade to have come under what is known as a consent decree — police reform by federal fiat — after a string of violent police actions against black, Latino and Native American people were caught on camera in 20.