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Friday, June 29, 2012

SPD Laughs About Withholding Information

Posted by on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 10:20 AM

As we report in Sources Say this week: "On June 25, the police disciplinary office began to investigate the weekend melee. Does this investigation mean police can't comment on the case anymore? 'Hahahah!!' SPD spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in an e-mail. 'That is exactly what it means.'"

Investigations into officer misconduct by the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) are widely (and rightly) viewed as a bureaucratic mechanism to exonerate officers of wrongdoing. When cops are found guilty, they are disciplined with the wettest of noodles (usually a few days off work). And even then, a byzantine system for assigning verdicts makes it nearly impossible to discern if a complaint was sustained, the US Department of Justice found last December.

So OPA investigations are not being used to discipline, exactly. Once the department begins an investigation, officers are using OPA investigations as a shield from scrutiny and as an excuse to dodge questions.

And then they're laughing about it.

In this particular case—when officers pepper sprayed people point-blank in the face—nobody had filed a complaint with the OPA to begin the investigation; the police department triggered it internally, sources at City Hall tell me, thereby granting cops carte blanche to stay silent on the case and withhold records.

We've received many more witness accounts from last Saturday's pepper-spray bonanza. But the Mayor Mike McGinn's office has repeatedly failed to answer questions about whether pepper-spray was used as "a self-defense tool, or as a last resort option when all other legal, effective force options have been exhausted," as per the mayor's 20/20 police reform plan. And when you ask the cops, they think it's funny that they can hide behind a pro-forma investigation. If it's an excuse for cops to remain silent, then it's the mayor's job to speak up.

But McGinn is MIA.


Comments (9) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
I blame the Council for the gutless contract that lets the SPD get away with this.

But Mike should fire Chief Diaz.
Posted by Will in Seattle on June 29, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 2
It's sounding more and more like something serious had better take place. But that might mean the voters will need to assign blame.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on June 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Banned on The Seattle Times 4
Fucking pigs...
Posted by Banned on The Seattle Times on June 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
pfffter 5
McGinn should be recalled if he's not going to stand up to SPD about this. What a useless empty suit he is.
Posted by pfffter on June 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
How dare the mayor not pitch in to increase the publicity around a march organized exclusively to bait bad apple cops into harming them?
Posted by gloomy gus on June 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 7
@5, i'm for recalling him but with the primaries coming up in a year it seems too late at this point.

My question is who is going to run against him? We really should have some names floating around.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on June 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
JonnoN 8
Mudede for Mayor!
Posted by JonnoN on June 29, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Ian Awesome 9
Thanks for the coverage. It's ridic, this whole situation.
Posted by Ian Awesome on June 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
In which we learn that Dominic is very eager, some might even say desperate, to misinterpret a "hahaha" in an email.

Isn't it strange, Dom, that the harder you push this story, the less likely it seems it will go anywhere?
Posted by robotslave on June 30, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this

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