Jun 9, 2022 - News

Lawyer's email told all Seattle police employees to preserve texts

Illustration of police lights shown through the shape of a police hat.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Amid Seattle's 2020 racial justice protests, the police department's top lawyer notified all employees on June 11 to "preserve any text … messages that relate to City business," says an email obtained by Axios.

  • By then, two public records requests had come in, per the email sent by chief legal counsel Rebecca Boatright.

Why it matters: The email offers more context to Axios' report on Wednesday about ex-police chief Carmen Best's testimony last month on why her texts are missing from the controversial period.

  • Best testified she periodically deleted her texts "in bulk" after deciding they didn't contain information requiring them to be kept.

Yes, but: While "transitory" records must only be kept "as needed," state law says once an agency gets a records request, it "may not destroy or erase" any existing record "until the request is resolved."

Go deeper: Seattle leaders won’t probe deleted texts from 2020

Image of an email sent on June 11, 2020 email by Seattle Police Department chief legal counsel Rebecca Boatright to all department personnel, notifying them to preserve their text messages.
The email was sent to "all SPD employees." Photo: Lewis Kamb/Axios
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