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AGO signs $15 million contract with WSU for police use of force database |  Washington

(The Center Square) — The Washington Attorney General’s Office has signed a $15 million contract with Washington State University to develop a database of public police use of force.

The RFP was created via Senate Bill 5259which Parliament passed in 2021. In the original text of the bill, the contract was to be awarded to WSU, but the bill was later amended to make it an AGO-led tender process .

The request for proposals called for the creation of a police use of force database that would include collaboration with the newly created Independent Investigations Office and span “across the full scope of work”, according to the request for proposals.

The tender also called for a feasibility analysis for a database of public records of police use of force, a concept that AGO lawyers said posed legal risks. As part of the RFP, the AGO will ultimately decide whether to proceed with the project.

The contract, signed in August, and the bidding process have been at the center of an ongoing dispute between the AGO, WSU and Police Strategies Chairman Bob Scales, a former prosecutor whose company has considered collaborating with Seattle University to bid on the project last year. Data from police strategies was used in a recent police use of force. analysis published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

Scales accused AGO and WSU employees of collaborate to ensure that the university, an AGO client that has a branch on its campus, wins the tender. Scales also accused the WSU president of interference in an ethics investigation related to the RFP after filing a complaint with the provost of the WSU, which handles ethics complaints, the president having said there would be no investigation. Scales also have accused the AGO to actually write the letter.

WSU was ultimately the sole bidder for the project and the only time in a decade that an AGO-issued tender received only one bid. The AGO awarded the contract to WSU earlier this year before entering into negotiations. According to emails obtained by The Center Square, the AGO and WSU hired attorneys from the same private firm to negotiate the contract.

Scales wrote in an email to The Center Square that one of the reasons his company did not bid on the project was due to its “onerous terms” which included the following provision: “Bidders are advised that this is a competitive bidding for a public contract and AGO cannot and will not accept any bid or enter into any contract which materially alters the material terms and conditions set out in this solicitation tenders and this contract. Bids that are dependent on AGO making material changes to the material terms and conditions set out in “The RFP or Contract may be deemed non-responsive. AGO will take into account the number and nature of items contained on the Bidders Contract Issues List to determine the likelihood of entering into a contract with that Bidder.”

WSU’s response to the RFP did not mention the OII or the feasibility analysis. This proposition received high ratings from AGO evaluators, but much lower ratings from members of the AGO advisory group that made recommendations for the RFP.

However, according to the grant contract agreement obtained by The Center Square, the scope of work now includes it, which will be completed in the first fiscal quarter of 2026.

Other program tasks mentioned in the scope of work include:

  • Provide mindfulness-based anti-racism training to project staff and contractors (Q3 FY2024)
  • Establish a permanent point of contact in each law enforcement agency (Q3 FY24)
  • Begin collecting CAD data from agencies to pre-populate the Use of Force Declaration Form (Q3 FY2024)
  • Prepare a semi-annual report for the Legislative Body and the Governor; submit a project to the AGO (second and fourth quarters of each fiscal year, with the first report four quarters of fiscal year 2024)

In an email to The Center Square, Scales wrote that “they (WSU) will not complete all of the tasks in the schedule and the things they choose to do will not be completed within that time frame. There is no liability here and the AGO can do nothing to harm WSU because WSU is their client. The AGO will protect WSU no matter how poorly it performs.