The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), which represents about 1,300 rank-and-file officers who patrol the city's streets, railed against the department's top civilian oversight official—the director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA)—in a Facebook post yesterday, calling him a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and adding, "#sendhimbacktoBoise."
By this morning, the guild had deleted the post.
In August, union president Ron Smith wrote a post claiming the Obama administration is waging a "war on cops"—then deleted it after I reported on it.
Smith did not respond to an e-mail seeking further comment this morning.
OPA Director Pierce Murphy, who is widely credited with driving the reform of the Boise police department over 14 years as its independent ombudsman, is taking the high road. "They're entitled to their opinion," he said by phone. "I'm doing my job the best I can. I expect there to be disagreements and always hope that those disagreements will be professional and all of us will be oriented toward the ultimate goal, which is complete accountability and transparency... It never needs to descend into a personal attack. That's not helpful." He said he's focusing on carrying out objective investigations into allegations of misconduct. You can read summaries of those investigations and their results here.
SPOG cannot, however, erase words from the printed page. In the January issue of the union's Guardian newspaper, its editor—Officer Tom McLaughlin—complained bitterly about Murphy:
Our OPA Director has shown little regard for our contract and our rights... There has been unequal or just outrageous discipline recommended... We Officers are being told we must be perfect in everything we do, in an ever changing and complex arena, however the system that holds us accountable is flawed... Many officers see the OPA director i.e. the system as not having any real interest in fairness of justice but a game of numbers. Since this department has very little or next to no major misconduct it must justify its existence. But that is just another proverbial rock that we must bear.
The OPA is a linchpin of the accountability system developed in the federal consent decree process that has, according to the department, made Seattle "the national model for [police] reform." This is what that convoluted system looks like, according to SPD:
In the previous month's column, McLaughlin called 16-year-old Laquan McDonald "a drug induced maniac," and confessed to being "just perplexed" by media coverage of how he died at the hands of Chicago police. Chicago officials hid the video of the killing for months and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has apologized, though not resigned, for how the incident was handled. The officer who killed McDonald has been charged with murder.
These are the guys negotiating the police union's new contract with the city of Seattle—McLaughlin is on the union's negotiation team, along with Smith and four other SPOG members.
In his latest column, Smith said negotiations with the city are ongoing and called them "tedious." The outcome of the negotiations, which are held in secret, will be vitally important to the city's ability to discipline or get rid of abusive officers.
In November, the SPOG president all but taunted the city. "In a nutshell, the city has a 'Saks 5th avenue shopping list,'" Smith said, "but only came to the counter with 'Walmart credit cards'; if you get my drift. We shall see how ambitious the city is for their glamorous desires very soon."
In October, Smith wrote about a meeting held in the previous month with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Department of Justice officials during their visit to Seattle.
"AG Lynch proclaimed that SPD is a shining example of police reform and a model police agency in the nation," Smith said. "Call me an optimist, but I cannot help to think that we have finally turned the corner, and September 24th was the beginning of the end of the stranglehold on the department."