Well, that didn’t take long. Back in April, we learned that the Seattle Police Department had hired hacker and transparency activist Tim Clemans to help move the department into the future. Clemans is already out following a conflict with a police captain.
Clemans was hired by the police department following a series of provocations meant to highlight the problems with police transparency. First, he filed public records requests for all of the police body camera footage the department had. When the department faltered, citing the inability to comply, Clemans created software that automatically redacted the video, effectively quashing any possible objection to transparency. In a surprisingly progressive move, the department chose to cooperate with Clemans on improving public accountability.
Now The Stranger reports that Clemans has left the department owing to internal conflicts. According to Clemans, he was trying to improve how the department handled 911 calls by creating software that helped identify which calls were the most important. This very much displeased the captain in charge. Clemans told The Stranger:
However, not long afterward, according to Clemans, longtime SPD captain Ron Rasmussen complained in a meeting that all changes in the center had to go through him. Rasmussen dismissed the usefulness of the highlighter program, Clemans said. He admits that when that happened, he “blew up,” yelling and cursing at Rasmussen. He was escorted out of the building and hasn’t been allowed back to SPD headquarters since then.
For its part, the SPD seems to outwardly grateful for Clemans work. “He’s a very gifted individual,” a spokesman told The Stranger “We’re very lucky to have had him as long as we had. The work that he’s done is creating a legacy.”
It was a fun idea while it lasted.