"SPD failed to retain enough officers over the last two years. "
Well gee, I wonder why. Maybe it has something to do with the unrelenting hated and vilification by the city council and popular fringe media that makes everyday citizens (like you and me) want to work in a locale less hostile to their chosen profession.
"This is a case where we all need to operate from a shared reality. SPD failed to retain enough officers over the last two years."
and why is this Will? When, as you have stated, the city never defunded the police and is now showering them with money, why is the department down to its lowest level of staffing in 30 years? Who was responsible for chasing off the first female African American chief after demanding she be included in the final list of candidates? Who has created such a toxic work environment that officers would rather retire or move elsewhere for less money rather than stay? Who was on the front line of the CHOP protests nodding their agreement when protestors were shouting for officers to put their gun in their mouth and pull the trigger?
These kinds of articles are the worst kind of gaslighting. First the council and the activists in the city create such a toxic, hostile work environment that attrition and recruiting have now reached critical levels. Then they have the gall to insinuate SPD is ineffective because they are unable to provide the service levels the city needs to stay safe. All along in the background you have The Stranger acting as a propaganda arm pushing out bullshit articles like this in an effort to undermine public safety officials.
The only ray of hope we have right now is the general populace is more and more fed up with the progressive, urbanist vision for this city where criminals are the victims and the victims are oppressors. The defeat of NKT, Gonzales and Nikkita Oliver last fall was a start but there is a lot more work to be done to rebuild the damage done by the knee jerk reaction of the 2020 city council led by Gonzales, Mosqueda, Herbold, Sawant and Morales. I hope we can continue to make progress even as TS and its favored members of the council continue to do all they can to sabotage those efforts.
Thanks for this great piece, Will! I had so much hope after May/June 2020 and am appalled at the foot dragging. It seems like such a no-brainer to provide support for mental health and addiction triage and remove cops from traffic duty. Any suggestions on how to keep pushing on these issues?
@1 @2 do you two work for SPD, or is your constant stream of pro-cop nonsense a voluntary pursuit?
@4 it’s not pro cop its anti bullshit.
@4: Is it really a stretch for you to imagine why morale is so low among SPD officers and staff?
As usual, The Stranger and the far left are out of touch with the opinions of the majority of citizens.
Westnest’s piece was even-handed and spot on. He agreed that there needs to be policing alternatives in certain situations, while stressing that the police are still needed on a day to day basis.
Furthermore, given the most recent election results, the voters of this city agree with Westneat, not the far left.
So @4, maybe it’s time you realize that you're out of touch with reality.
Convenient how the resident dipshits forget that it was SPD that vacated their own precinct in a petulant temper tantrum, deposited the city deliberately, and then lied about it.
I sometimes wonder if the tone of articles like this is appropriate. Then I read comments like the first and second and realize it completely went over their heads.
Look, dipshits, good police officers should be able to handle the well founded criticisms that came their way. The job requires a thick skin, day in and day out. If you can't handle this, you suck. It would be like a referee running off the court "they booed me, they booed me ... I need a tissue". Holy shit, if that is why these cops left, they are really shitty cops. Grow a fucking spine -- it comes with the job.
Sorry, but the Seattle police has "structural problems". This isn't just my opinion, but the opinion of judges who have looked at the department repeatedly (https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability). Do you think these structural problems are limited only to "a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force" and "serious concerns about biased policing" as the initial investigation found? Please. That is like saying that someone who routinely beats his wife wouldn't possibly yell at her. Get real. We are talking about a department that protects its own when it comes to abusive practices, and you don't think they could possibly be slow walking a process that cedes power to other agencies? Holy shit, what they are doing now is tiny compared to what they've done before.
But that doesn't make it right. I get why the cops want to work overtime to direct traffic. That is good money. But it isn't a good use of public funds. Nor is it good for the cops to oppose cooperation with other programs that have been proven to be effective in other cities. It is merely selfish. As long as they take on a huge amount of responsibility, they can continue to complain about shortages, and ask for bigger and bigger bonuses.
@10: Of course SPD has deep-rooted structural problems. Of course there are better ideas on policing that police would want themselves. So let's support and encourage the department that we have rather than tear it to shreds because it isn't perfect.
@8: But the building wasn't burned down by the rioters. Always a silver lining.
@3, 4, 9,
Units like the one in Denver and Eugene, Oregon, that Lewis wants, would not have responded to Charleena Lyles, even had they been stood up as Council Member Lewis wanted. That doesn't mean they are of no value, or aren't better for the kinds of responses those city's allow mental health workers to go to; however, it doesn't mean that had they existed, Charleena Lyles, and those like her, would be alive.
@10, Traffic offenders won't stop for police, because there is a no pursuit law and no way to hold them accountable after the fact (you need to I.D. not just the registered owner, but the offender behind the wheel at the time of the incident, in order to cite and prevail). So what could go wrong with parking enforcement directing traffic?
Raindrop dear, the Minneapolis Police Precinct (if that's what you are referring to) wasn't burned down by rioters. It was set ablaze by four individuals. Their motives were their own.
@13: Ok - but that doesn't negate the fact that abandoning the SPD precinct that night may have been a sensible option of last resort.
I'm confused: Why don't we have our own version of STAR yet? That seems like the crux of Westneat's article. What is the status of Triage One? Are we just waiting for the mayor's office to implement it? What's the hold up?
@16, Good question.
It doesn't change the fact that had we had our own version of STAR, they would not have responded to Charleena Lyles (STAR doesn't respond to reports of crime, violence, threats of violence, to callers flagged for past violence - Lyles -, or unsafe environments).
It doesn't mean that such a program is worthless and ineffective, it just won't reduce justifiable homicides or violence by first responders against people in mental health crisis. It can be more effective for the person in crisis, and for police, provided they aren't violent, threatening violence, reporting a crime, etc. That might be as much as 30% of calls.
@10 good officers are more than happy to not only accept constructive criticism but take action on that feedback. Please tell us what feedback the council and activists have offered? Was it when Sawant referred to all of them as racists and murderers? Was it when the slogan All Cops are Bastards was pasted all over the city by the cool kids? Maybe it was when the asshoke from Kirkland took a baseball bat to an officers head in the name of racial justice.
There is a line between being thin skinned and being in a toxic, mentally abusive situation and for many officers the city crossed that line in 2020. At some point the obligation to their own mental well being and their family takes precedence over being thick skinned.
If you honestly can’t tell the difference between trying to identify and improve structural issues without personally attacking and denigrating men and women who try to make this city a better place to live everyday I honestly don’t know what to tell you.
It is heartening to see so many people waking up and pushing back against the toxic leftist propaganda from The Stranger around the crime/drugs/homeless encampment issue. I was a lot more progressive before I watched Seattle progressives destroy the city I love. Seems like I am not the only one.
The answer is quite simple: cops have been leaving the City in droves because they know their decades-long ability to bust heads with impunity has come to an end, so they're going to places where they can continue to act like Neanderthalic muscleheads.
So, you copsucking bootlickers do understand that there is a nationwide shortage of police right? It is not just Seattle or leftwing cities, it is everywhere.
The fact is that there are a lot of old cops approaching retirement age and young people look at cops and see a bunch of racist, authoritarian control freaks and want nothing to do with those weirdos.
The other problem is that a lot of potential recruits are just not fit enough to serve, we need a pre-academy fitness program that can bring potential recruits up to shape.
There is a lot of cop hatred out there. The thing is, it is not going to go away until cops stop acting like thugs and bullies. And that is not going to happen until they are held to account for their bad behavior.
@22: They meet and shake hands on the dark side of the moon.
It cannot be stated often or forcefully enough that the City Council wholly embraced Defund in mid-2020, and the Stranger fully supported this. There was, and is, NO support for Defund beyond the screaming and unaccountable activist class, and their enablers at the Stranger. As our own Mrs. Vel-DuRay noted back then, the City had contractual obligations which the Council could not unilaterally abrogate, and Defund failed for exactly that reason.
Out of frustration at not being able to satisfy the screaming and unaccountable activist class, the Council jerked Chief Best on her salary, and she quit. It was misgovernance on an epic scale, and those Members of the Council who drove it still need to be held accountable. The Stranger is correct in saying blame should not be apportioned equally between SPD and the Council, but that is because the Council earned almost all of the blame.
@17, I'm not about to get into an internet argument with you, but I think you should know that your response really annoyed me. My question was a genuine question, and I'm not interested in why you think it doesn't matter. In the future, if you don't have a relevant answer to the question that was asked, you might find it more persuasive to just not respond. I'd like to be on your side, but you're making it really difficult.
But that's none of my business.
@25, I wasn't being sarcastic when I said, "Good question."
Both this piece, and the Seattle Times piece its responding to, give you the broad answer to your specific question. The police and or Mayors (current and former) haven't been all that receptive, so they slow walk implementing what the Council has funded. Mayors and Department heads don't tell us or the Council why, nor are they required to. The City has hundreds of open positions at any given time for any of a dozen reasons, or no good reason at all, and tons of stuff that has been budgeted for, but has not yet been acquired, through the byzantine acquisition processes required by state law. So Mayors and Departments have cover for slow-walking anything they want.
But it begs the question that I raised. Do we want this program to prevent people having dissociative episodes, mental crisis, etc. from being injured or killed by a cop? If so, we need to rethink that, because programs like the STAR program will never respond to people like Charleena (because she was reporting a crime, and she had been violent to the officer on a call a month earlier). It has been The Stranger's argument that preventing such death and injury, at the hand of first responders, is why we need it. If that's the argument, they don't understand the limitations that the programs they hold up for Seattle to model it's program after have on responding to people in mental health crisis, and limitations placed on mental health workers by worker safety regulators, to respond to those that are violent or threatening violence, even when it stems from their mental illness.
If we want a STAR program to address responses to people having public mental health crisis, where they aren't reporting a crime, aren't violent, aren't threatening violence by word or actions, and aren't in a location that is inherently dangerous or unsafe, then its a win, win, win option. The mentally ill person gets someone better trained and equipped to deal with a mental health problem and a better outcome, the community gets a potentially disruptive individual to stop disrupting, and the cops don't expend resources on something they aren't PRIMARILY trained or equipped to deal with, so they can focus on responding to crime, and crime prevention.
Fund the police properly and hire more cops. Period. Stop with the social workers can do the job. We don't send social workers into dangerous or potentially dangerous situations,. That comes later once we know its safe to send them in.
Properly fund mental health treatment and homeless programs which are effective... we have yet to see one of those anywhere after years.
Our police keep ... law and order so we can function as a community.
If we need training for the SPD to meet the needs of the community, far left and The Stranger's version of cops in Seattle.... then fund the training program.
The plain truth is the Seattle City Council created a hot mess of the police dept. by de-funding, vilifying and being non supportive. The aftermath of this dipshit approach is all around us today.
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