In addition to my complaint about police misconduct, which everyone is sick of hearing about—especially me—SPD interim chief Harry Bailey has removed misconduct findings in six other cases that hold over from the previous administration. Seattle Times reporters Steve Miletich and Jennifer Sullivan have the (very well reported) story:
Among the rescinded cases was that of an officer who, while training her police dog, lost 15.6 grams of cocaine which she had fastened under her car. When she forgot to remove it before driving, it fell off. She got a one-day suspension, now reduced by Bailey to a referral for further training.
In that case, city attorneys advised the Police Department that reducing the finding was a “judgment call,” hinged on whether the conduct was willful or a mistake for which the officer had taken responsibility. Misconduct might be overturned by an arbitrator, the attorneys said.
In another case, city attorneys recommended caution in removing a misconduct finding and written reprimand for a sergeant who failed to arrest a domestic-violence suspect, forcing the victim, who was suffering from cancer, to sleep in her car and with friends. While a discretionary situation and not actual misconduct, the sergeant’s decision appeared to be “a significant judgment lapse” that resulted in “real hardship” to the victim, the attorneys wrote. Bailey reduced the finding to a referral for additional training.
Overall, Bailey reduced two misconduct findings to training referrals where city attorneys found the lesser penalty could be “justified,” and for two officers where attorneys found it “potentially” justified...
In granting the training referrals, Bailey’s actions mean the officers’ names are no longer subject to public disclosure; their cases can’t be listed on a data-collection system to track officer behavior; their erased misconduct can’t be used in gauging punishment for any future misconduct; and their cases can’t be used for comparative purposes in deciding other disciplinary cases, according to a source familiar with the matter.
These cops get off without being named, without a trace on their record. Awful.
Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray and the police union (Seattle Police Officers Guild, or SPOG), which had challenged all these misconduct rulings, can't get their story straight about why my case was reversed:
In addition, SPOG said in a statement that [Officer John] Marion agreed to accept the finding after consulting with union President Rich O’Neill and incoming President Ron Smith.
However, Murray said in the interview with The Times that he directed that Bailey reinstate the misconduct finding on Saturday after reconsidering his comments at a Friday news conference where he fully backed Bailey.
It seems the police union gets what it wants—persuading the mayor and police chief to scotch misconduct verdicts when the cases are under wraps, out of the public eye. But when the city feels backlash over a case, cops and politicians contradict each other in public to take credit for punishing the cop. That's unfair to the cop, unfair to the victim, and a punch in the gut to confidence in the police complaint process. Officer discipline should not be governed by public opinion or insider politics. This system is broken.